ter·​ri·​to·​ri·​al | \ˌter-ə-ˈtȯr-ē-əl \

Definition of territorial 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of or relating to a territory territorial government

b : of or relating to or organized chiefly for home defense

c : of or relating to private property

2a : exhibiting or involving territoriality territorial birds

b : of or relating to an assigned or preempted area territorial commanders

3a : nearby, local

b : serving outlying areas : regional



Definition of territorial (Entry 2 of 2)

: a member of a territorial military unit

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Other Words from territorial


territorially \ˌter-​ə-​ˈtȯr-​ē-​ə-​lē \ adverb

Examples of territorial in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Despite its inheritance from British political culture, Mr. Lambert says, the United States embraced a territorial orientation, as if following Rome. William Anthony Hay, WSJ, "‘Seapower States’ Review: Ruling Over the Seas," 23 Nov. 2018 Some Greeks remain suspicious that Macedonia harbors territorial and historical claims to Macedonia province. Konstantin Testorides, Fox News, "Macedonia or North Macedonia? Vote tests a nation's identity," 28 Sep. 2018 As the territorial boundaries between humans and animals begin to overlap in cities, both sides are devising strategies for coexistence. Aditi Shrikant, BostonGlobe.com, "When wild animals urbanize," 13 July 2018 New territorial disputes with China—and China’s enormous military—have spurred Tokyo to develop certain types of these weapons, including a brigade of amphibious marines, meant to take back Japanese territory captured in wartime. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Japan Is Developing a Unique Supersonic Glide Weapon," 16 Oct. 2018 Her existence proves that Neanderthals ventured out of their small groups and territorial regions long enough to breed with other species, like the Denisovans. Prince Shakur, Teen Vogue, "Scientists Discover Remains of an Ancient Human Hybrid," 25 Aug. 2018 Obtaining spider silk, however, is a bit of a nightmare, as most spider species are both extremely territorial and prone to cannibalism. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Researchers insert a spider web gene into the silkworm," 8 Aug. 2018 Here's how to kill (or deter) dangerous wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets hanging out near your home: Wasp Prevention Many flying predators are quite territorial and will not start a new nest within a couple of hundred feet of an existing nest. Jean Nick, Good Housekeeping, "How to Wasp-Proof Your Backyard This Summer," 26 July 2018 Its metrics for success were not simply in maintaining territorial integrity or a full treasury. Mark Sappenfield, The Christian Science Monitor, "The largest patriotism," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

TERRITORIAL Most nations aim to impose taxes on economic activity that takes place within their borders. N. Gregory Mankiw, New York Times, "How Best to Tax Business," 21 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'territorial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of territorial


1625, in the meaning defined at sense 3a


1907, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for territorial

Last Updated

29 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for territorial

The first known use of territorial was in 1625

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English Language Learners Definition of territorial

: of or relating to land or water that is owned or controlled by a government

—used to describe animals or people that try to keep others away from an area that they use or control


ter·​ri·​to·​ri·​al | \ˌter-ə-ˈtȯr-ē-əl \

Kids Definition of territorial

1 : of or relating to a territory a territorial government

2 : displaying behavior associated with defending an animal's territory My dog is very territorial.

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More from Merriam-Webster on territorial

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with territorial

Spanish Central: Translation of territorial

Nglish: Translation of territorial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of territorial for Arabic Speakers

Comments on territorial

What made you want to look up territorial? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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