ter·ri·to·ry | \ ˈter-ə-ˌtȯr-ē \
plural territories

Definition of territory 

1a : a geographic area belonging to or under the jurisdiction of a governmental authority

b : an administrative subdivision of a country

c : a part of the U.S. not included within any state but organized with a separate legislature

d : a geographic area (such as a colonial possession) dependent on an external government but having some degree of autonomy

2a : an indeterminate geographic area

b : a field of knowledge or interest

3a : an assigned area especially : one in which a sales representative or distributor operates

b : an area often including a nesting or denning site and a variable foraging range that is occupied and defended by an animal or group of animals

go with the territory or come with the territory

: to be a natural or unavoidable aspect or accompaniment of a particular situation, position, or field criticism goes with the territory in this job

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Synonyms for territory


habitat, home, niche, range

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Examples of territory in a Sentence

Those mountains are in Mexican territory. Guam is a U.S. territory. The birds are busy establishing territories and building nests. Male cats spray to mark territory. The goal of the expedition is to map unexplored territory.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The potential annihilation of a neighboring group and the territory to be gained provided ample motivation for surprise attacks. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "7,000-Year-Old German Grave Shows New Side of Neolithic Brutality," 11 July 2018 Haifa was originally developed rapidly as the territory's primary port, oil refinery and important rail hub. Jeffrey Barken, Jewish Journal, "Haifa's on the rise with university leading the way," 11 July 2018 The are currently more than 28,000 megawatts of solar projects planned for the territory covered by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which covers 90 percent of Texas. Rye Druzin, San Antonio Express-News, "Largest Texas solar farm to be built in West Texas for $400 million," 3 July 2018 My film, called Ugly Beauty, wandered hopelessly about the territory searching for answers. Waldemar Januszczak, A-LIST, "Kate Moss: The Golden Girl," 1 July 2018 On Wednesday, a drone traveled about 6.2 miles inside Israeli territory before it was shot down. Fox News, "Israel launches missile at second drone approaching its border from Syria," 13 July 2018 Into this unfamiliar territory stepped a fresh, exciting England team, one stripped of the unwarranted swagger of its predecessors and coached by a fundamentally decent, approachable man. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Croatia Digs Deeper, Burying England’s World Cup Dreams," 12 July 2018 The risks of more such attacks will grow if jihadists are allowed to hold territory and establish camps, as al-Qaeda did in Afghanistan before September 11th 2001. The Economist, "Jihadists are trying to take over the Sahel," 12 July 2018 In Brussels, Trump signaled that U.S. recognition of Crimea as a Russian territory was not out of the question. Gregory Korte, USA TODAY, "Trump's chaotic NATO summit raises stakes for Putin talks in Helsinki," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'territory.' 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 territory

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for territory

Middle English, from Latin territorium, literally, land around a town, from terra land — more at terrace entry 1

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Statistics for territory

Last Updated

25 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for territory

The first known use of territory was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of territory

: an area of land that belongs to or is controlled by a government

: one of the parts of the United States that is not a state

: any one of the large parts that some countries are divided into


ter·ri·to·ry | \ ˈter-ə-ˌtȯr-ē \
plural territories

Kids Definition of territory

1 : a geographical area belonging to or under the rule of a government

2 : a part of the United States not included within any state but organized with a separate governing body

4 : an area that is occupied and defended by an animal or group of animals


ter·ri·to·ry | \ ˈter-ə-ˌtōr-ē \
plural -ries

Legal Definition of territory 

1 : a geographical area belonging to or under the jurisdiction of a governmental authority

2 : a political subdivision of a country

3 : a part of the U.S. (as Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands) not included within any state but organized with a separate legislature — compare trust territory

Other words from territory

territorial \ˌter-ə-ˈtōr-ē-əl \ adjective
territorially adverb

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Comments on territory

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


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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