ter·​ror·​ism | \ ˈter-ər-ˌi-zəm How to pronounce terrorism (audio) \

Definition of terrorism

: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion

Examples of terrorism in a Sentence

They have been arrested for acts of terrorism.
Recent Examples on the Web No war is forthcoming with Iran, and despite the media narrative, the Trump administration has never been particularly close to open hostilities with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism — even in the aftermath of the Soleimani operation. Isaac Schorr, National Review, "No, We’re Not Going to War with Iran," 15 Jan. 2021 What happened was an act of domestic terrorism inspired and encouraged by our President. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Despite voting no on impeachment, Utah Rep. John Curtis receives death threat from Trump supporters," 14 Jan. 2021 The real scary threat of domestic terrorism by extremists and white nationalists. John Carucci, ajc, "Norah O'Donnell: 'Journalism is more important than ever'," 13 Jan. 2021 Conspiracy fantasies have long fed into nostalgic group members’ fears about lack of security and threats of terrorism. Amy Cooter, Scientific American, "Militia Expert Warns Trump's Capitol Insurrectionists Could Try Again," 11 Jan. 2021 The Trump administration is putting Cuba back on the list of countries considered state sponsors of terrorism, rescinding a 2015 move by the Obama administration to thaw ties to the onetime Cold War adversary. Michael R. Gordon, WSJ, "Cuba Named a State Sponsor of Terrorism by Trump Administration," 11 Jan. 2021 State Department officials drafted a plan to designate the island nation as a state sponsor of terrorism, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is weighing whether to sign off on the proposal, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Pompeo considers placing Cuba back on US list of state terrorism sponsors: Report," 30 Dec. 2020 Since then, violence and terrorism committed in the name of Islam has continued. Aishah Hasnie, Fox News, "Reporter's Notebook: Peter Kassig's selfless aid and brutal murder left a profound impact on this journalist," 16 Nov. 2020 More polarized societies are especially susceptible to bouts of political violence and terrorism when politicians use hate speech. James Piazza, The Conversation, "When politicians use hate speech, political violence increases," 28 Sep. 2020

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

1795, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for terrorism

Time Traveler

The first known use of terrorism was in 1795

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Statistics for terrorism

Last Updated

21 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Terrorism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrorism. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for terrorism


How to pronounce terrorism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of terrorism

: the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal


ter·​ror·​ism | \ ˈter-ər-ˌi-zəm How to pronounce terrorism (audio) \

Kids Definition of terrorism

: the use of violence as a means of achieving a goal


ter·​ror·​ism | \ ˈter-ər-ˌi-zəm How to pronounce terrorism (audio) \

Legal Definition of terrorism

1 : the unlawful use or threat of violence especially against the state or the public as a politically motivated means of attack or coercion
2 : violent and intimidating gang activity street terrorism

Other Words from terrorism

terrorist \ -​ist How to pronounce terrorism (audio) \ adjective or noun
terroristic \ ˌter-​ər-​ˈis-​tik How to pronounce terrorism (audio) \ adjective

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