ter·​ror·​ist | \ ˈter-ər-ist How to pronounce terrorist (audio) \
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 McKay hosted 16 consecutive hours of news coverage after a Palestinian terrorist group invaded the living quarters of Israeli athletes at the Olympic Village. BostonGlobe.com, "ABC’s ‘Wide World of Sports’ debut 60 years ago. It would go on to change sports television as we know it," 24 Apr. 2021 Hatem Fariz, from Florida, had pleaded guilty to raising money for a Palestinian terrorist group. New York Times, "He Was Convicted of a Bombing Plot. Was It a Setup?," 15 Apr. 2021 The iPhone used by a terrorist in the San Bernardino shooting reportedly was unlocked for the FBI in 2016 by a small Australian hacking firm now facing a lawsuit from Apple. Nihal Krishan, Washington Examiner, "Australian company that might have unlocked San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone now faces Apple lawsuit," 14 Apr. 2021 The movie takes place eight years after The Dark Knight when a terrorist named Bane targets Gotham City. Travis Bean, Forbes, "The Best New Movies To Stream On Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, Disney+ And Peacock This Week," 11 Apr. 2021 Dr Fincanci, who turned 61 last year, was labelled a terrorist by none other than Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Economist, "Covid-19 and repression in Turkey," 16 Jan. 2021 Imam Asad Zaman believes Michael Hari should be labeled a terrorist. Andy Mannix, Star Tribune, "After mosque bombing, Twin Cities Muslims want new laws combating domestic terrorists," 29 Dec. 2020 The trader must also bribe officials in Damascus and support government causes, lest he be detained as a terrorist. The Economist, "A country divided Ten years of war have broken Syria into pieces," 13 Mar. 2021 Britain’s Supreme Court is scheduled to decide whether a woman who left her London home as a teenager to join the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria will be permitted to return to the U.K. David Clark Scott, The Christian Science Monitor, "Monday Sunrise Briefing: Relief in winter-weary Texas," 22 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Passed in 2005 in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the REAL ID law set nationwide security standards for states to use in issuing driver’s licenses and identification cards. Colin Campbell, baltimoresun.com, "You now have until 2023 to update your driver’s license to be REAL ID compliant," 27 Apr. 2021 Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Melissa Yeager, The Arizona Republic, "Real ID deadline extended again due to COVID-19. Here's what that means for Arizonans," 27 Apr. 2021 His decision comes 20 years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that ignited the U.S.-led invasion. Michael M. Phillips, WSJ, "American Vets See Echoes of Vietnam in Afghanistan Withdrawal Plan," 26 Apr. 2021 The facility played an important logistical role during the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, providing a way station for supplies and troops. Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, "Biden formally recognizes killing of more than 1 million Armenians as genocide," 24 Apr. 2021 Trump regularly mocked Jeb Bush on the campaign trail using personal insults, faulted George W. Bush for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and attacked the Bush legacy. Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN, "Bush says he wrote in Condoleezza Rice for president in 2020," 23 Apr. 2021 Sikh Americans have experienced xenophobic violence for years, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, resulted in harassment and hate crimes that continue today. Natalia E. Contreras, The Indianapolis Star, "A week later: Sikhs in Indiana demand accountability from FedEx, police after shooting," 23 Apr. 2021 Valentine is also teaming up with Joe Torre as executive producers on a Turner Sports documentary about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. BostonGlobe.com, "Catching up with Bobby Valentine, who says he ‘shouldn’t have taken that job’ to manage Red Sox in 2012," 21 Apr. 2021 Social media has allowed for terrorist networks to communicate and expand rapidly. Mark Leibovich, New York Times, "Merrick Garland Faces Resurgent Peril After Years Fighting Extremism," 20 Feb. 2021

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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Time Traveler for terrorist

Time Traveler

The first known use of terrorist was in 1794

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Statistics for terrorist

Last Updated

28 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Terrorist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrorist. Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for terrorist



English Language Learners Definition of terrorist

: a person who uses or supports the use of terrorism


ter·​ror·​ist | \ ˈter-ər-ist \

Kids Definition of terrorist

: someone who engages in terrorism

More from Merriam-Webster on terrorist

Nglish: Translation of terrorist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of terrorist for Arabic Speakers


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