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

Getty ImagesJoe Scarnici Jenna Dewan continues to branch out into new territory. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Jenna Dewan Is Giving Us Her Best Lifestyle Tips In New Book 'Gracefully You'," 6 Feb. 2019 But the reverberations that would run through the Internet as his crop treaded into Manic Panic territory, most notoriously capturing the attention of music trailblazer and hair chameleon Frank Ocean, were beyond his wildest imagination. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "How This Skateboarder’s Radical Pink Buzz Cut Caught Frank Ocean’s Attention," 4 Feb. 2019 Bombers can also be used in a conventional role, carrying more ordnance farther and deeper into enemy territory than other tactical aircraft. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Does America Still Need the Nuclear Triad?," 23 Jan. 2019 Shifting to local sources of materials, like rainwater and compost, would drop the energy use dramatically, shifting the farms into territory that's typically considered sustainable. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Urban farms could be incredibly efficient—but aren’t yet," 27 Dec. 2018 Our new temple, with the heavy-handed name of Temple Judea, was a motley agglomeration of about 200 Jewish families, led into hostile territory by jobs at the nearby Merck corporate campus. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Vox, "How the JAP became America’s most complex Jewish stereotype.," 5 Dec. 2018 The stocks of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Netflix have all declined 20 percent or more in value in recent months, pushing them into bear market territory. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Learning to love robots," 20 Nov. 2018 In Oakland, 20 of the 290 larger neighborhoods passed into million-dollar territory last year, and in San Jose, the percentage of million-dollar homes rose from 55.7 percent to 70 percent last year. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "The number of ‘million-dollar neighborhoods’ in the U.S. has doubled," 9 Nov. 2018 Outnumbered, the police did nothing to stop them and accompanied them several miles (kilometers) into Guatemalan territory. Fox News, "Honduran migrant caravan crosses Guatemala border, US-bound," 15 Oct. 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

13 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for territory

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

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More Definitions for territory



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

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esteemed in general opinion

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