ter·ror·ist | \ˈter-ər-ist \
plural terrorists

Definition of terrorist 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: an advocate or practitioner of terrorism as a means of coercion Opposition still runs high to the idea of releasing or bringing into U.S. prisons dozens of men widely considered dangerous terrorists even if many are not. Less than three weeks before the Winter Olympics are set to begin in the Russian city of Sochi, police there have begun hunting for suspected terrorists allegedly plotting attacks.Time



Definition of terrorist (Entry 2 of 2)

: or, relating to, or characteristic of terrorists or terrorism : practicing or involving violent acts of terror a terrorist organization The consequences of the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks of September 2001 will ramify for decades.— Joe Klein There is no margin for error when a real terrorist threat is present and the safety of the public, and the first responders, is in jeopardy.— Gary J. Laughlin

Examples of terrorist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Too often the media and politicians refer to acts committed by far-right groups as perpetrated by someone with mental health issues, or a lone wolf, not a terrorist. Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor, "The vicious circle of Islamist terrorism and far-right extremism," 6 July 2018 This prevents users from uploading a photo or video that matches another photo or video that has previously been identified as terrorist. Stuart Macdonald, Scientific American, "How Tech Companies Are Trying to Disrupt Terrorist Social Media Activity," 26 June 2018 In Libya, civil war killed thousands of people and left much of the country ungoverned and vulnerable to terrorists, and the U.S., as usual, had no plan or desire to deal with the aftermath of intervention. George Packer, The New Yorker, "Witnessing the Obama Presidency, from Start to Finish," 5 June 2018 If investigators declared Paddock a right-wing extremist, that would make him a terrorist and put the worst act of terrorism since 9/11 squarely at the feet of Donald Trump. Michael Harriot, The Root, "New Evidence Shows the Vegas Shooter Was Probably a Far-Right Extremist, but No One Will Say It," 18 May 2018 Terrorism Senate Bill 57 allows a victim of terrorism to file a claim for damages against the terrorist in state court. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, "Sex ed, terrorism and revenge porn: New Kentucky laws start Saturday," 13 July 2018 In the university, founded in 1290, left-wing students warned that a group of hard-right students were espousing the works of Julius Evola, the spiritual and intellectual godfather of Italian fascists and Italy’s post-fascist terrorists. Jason Horowitz, BostonGlobe.com, "Migrants were welcome in Macerata, before a murder," 7 July 2018 The deadliest attacks in 2017 continued to be those by Islamist terrorists. Valentina Pop, WSJ, "Separatist, Nationalist Attacks in Europe Increased in 2017," 20 June 2018 Roughly 13 million Americans are expected to take a cruise this year, and if a ship is taken by terrorists, the team responds. Carter Evans, CBS News, "Elite Coast Guard team training for potential chemical weapons attacks," 14 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The terrorist attack killed 22 people and injured 119 others. Dave Quinn, PEOPLE.com, "Pete Davidson Praises Ariana Grande's Topless Photo as Her Ex Mac Miller Raps About Lost Love," 13 July 2018 Trump also blamed recent terrorist attacks there on Khan, who is a Muslim. Jonathan Lemire And Jill Colvin, Fox News, "Trump brings his chaotic road show to Britain," 13 July 2018 The 2001 USA Patriot Act, adopted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, added new requirements. Telis Demos, WSJ, "Rules Designed to Catch Terrorists Cost This Unsuspecting Customer Her Bank Account," 13 July 2018 In San Bernardino, hundreds of Inland Regional Center workers returned to their offices a month after the December 2015 terrorist attack. Meredith Cohn, baltimoresun.com, "What happens to the sites of mass shootings depends on where and what they are," 10 July 2018 The Bataclan, which is a very symbolic place because of the terrorist attack, and Médine and Islam. Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor, "The vicious circle of Islamist terrorism and far-right extremism," 6 July 2018 Tensions began building after a terrorist attack in London last June. Jen Kirby, Vox, "A giant “Trump Baby” balloon will greet Trump in London next week," 6 July 2018 Three others convicted, however, received prison sentences of three to 10 years for supporting a terrorist organization and being accomplices to some of the killings. Erik Kirschbaum, latimes.com, "German Neo-Nazi found guilty of murder in execution-style slayings of migrants," 11 July 2018 Judges sentenced Beate Zschaepe to life in prison for murder, membership of a terrorist organization, bomb attacks that injured dozens and several lesser crimes including a string of robberies. Frank Jordans, chicagotribune.com, "German suspect in neo-Nazi trial guilty of 10 killings, court finds," 11 July 2018

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


1794, in the meaning defined above


1795, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for terrorist

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for terrorist

The first known use of terrorist was in 1794

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More Definitions for terrorist


ter·ror·ist | \ˈter-ər-ist\

Kids Definition of terrorist

: someone who engages in terrorism

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More from Merriam-Webster on terrorist

Spanish Central: Translation of terrorist

Nglish: Translation of terrorist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of terrorist for Arabic Speakers


one that holds something together

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