ter·​ror·​ism ˈter-ər-ˌi-zəm How to pronounce terrorism (audio)
: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion

Example Sentences

They have been arrested for acts of terrorism.
Recent Examples on the Web President Joe Biden, soon after taking office in 2021, directed his national security team to work on a new plan to counter domestic terrorism. Marcela Rodrigues, Dallas News, 14 May 2023 Gramiccioni worked for nearly a decade as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Newark, New Jersey, in the public corruption and terrorism units. Rebecca Rosenberg, Fox News, 9 May 2023 Since then, for the past 75 years, the Palestinians are bringing upon themselves a Nakba by continuing to incite hate and terrorism and rejecting every peace plan. Gabe Kaminsky, Washington Examiner, 9 May 2023 The 15-year-old gunman, Ethan Crumbley, pleaded guilty in November to charges including first-degree murder and terrorism. Lily Altavena, Detroit Free Press, 8 May 2023 One avenue investigators are exploring is whether this was an act of domestic terrorism, multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News. Josh Margolin, ABC News, 8 May 2023 Such reactions have been reported in similar fields, such as online terrorism research. Miron Lakomy, Scientific American, 8 May 2023 György Budaházy, convicted of terrorism in March, left prison on Friday night on horseback, authorities said. Balint Bardi, CNN, 30 Apr. 2023 The guards eventually forced her to falsely confess to crimes against the state, including terrorism. Adam Goldman, New York Times, 17 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'terrorism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1795, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of terrorism was in 1795

Dictionary Entries Near terrorism

Cite this Entry

“Terrorism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrorism. Accessed 5 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


ter·​ror·​ism ˈter-ər-ˌiz-əm How to pronounce terrorism (audio)
: the use of terror as a means of achieving a goal
terrorist adjective or noun

Legal Definition


ter·​ror·​ism ˈter-ər-ˌi-zəm How to pronounce terrorism (audio)
: the unlawful use or threat of violence especially against the state or the public as a politically motivated means of attack or coercion
: violent and intimidating gang activity
street terrorism
terrorist adjective or noun
terroristic adjective
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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