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

So please sit back and relax, and take solace in this journey into the familiar territory of England dropping out of a major tournament. SI.com, "England: Who Is to Blame?," 12 July 2018 Investors have been warming to the idea of rising inflation all year, especially after the January jobs report helped send major indexes into correction territory in early February. Michael Wursthorn, WSJ, "U.S. Stocks Regain Ground After Losses," 12 July 2018 The pineapple upside-down cake skirted into super-sweet territory, but its light texture impressed, as did the partnering coconut gelato. Tim Smith, baltimoresun.com, "David Cordish's new restaurant a good bet 24/7 at Live Hotel," 12 July 2018 The throw appeared to carom off Bregman's batting helmet and into foul territory. Jim Reineking, USA TODAY, "Houston Astros get wild walk-off win against Oakland Athletics," 11 July 2018 Todd Frazier swung at a fastball in the bottom of the fourth, fouling it off and also sending his bat deep into foul territory down the third base line. Scott Orgera, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Blake Snell dazzles as Rays blank Mets 3-0," 7 July 2018 Somewhere around 2006–2007, after the release of their album Black Holes and Revelations, things kicked up a notch and they were catapulted into A-list-band territory. Tom Philip, GQ, "It’s Time to Admit You Love Muse," 5 July 2018 There’s definitely songs that kind of venture off into the ska territory, and then some will be a little bit harder and go off towards, like, more punk. Bob Kostanczuk, Post-Tribune, "Festival of the Lakes salutes '90s music," 5 July 2018 The arrival of another of Bob's accomplices (Michael Shamus Wiles), who makes his partner look positively gentle, drives the proceedings into even more gruesome territory. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Eat Me': Film Review," 5 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

9 Oct 2018

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

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


one that holds something together

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