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

When a piece of apparel starts being associated with right wing terrorists and murderers, that would probably be a good time for people who disapprove of their actions to stop wearing that apparel. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "How the MAGA Hat Became a Symbol of Hate," 31 Jan. 2019 The stops were conducted despite the State Department’s characterization of Yemen in 2000 as a haven for terrorists. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Militant Killed in U.S. Airstrike Was Wanted for USS Cole Bombing," 4 Jan. 2019 Elsewhere Kevin Roose wades through tweets and Facebook posts to chart the alleged mail bomber’s devolution into a fringe conspiracy theorist and terrorist. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Why social media is friend to far-right politicians around the world," 30 Oct. 2018 President Nicolas Maduro has described Perez and his followers as fanatics and extremist terrorists. Jaimy Jones, Houston Chronicle, "Pearland walks back annexation of 2,000 acres amid protests, legal rebuke," 26 Mar. 2018 Saudi Arabia, which has been accused of helping or allowing the financing of terrorists since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, didn’t respond to a request for comment. Daniel Michaels, WSJ, "U.S. Rejects New European Dirty-Money Blacklist," 14 Feb. 2019 On May 22, 2017, terrorists bombed the Manchester Arena, where Grande held a concert. refinery29.com, "Ariana Grande Not Amused By Pete Davidson's "Unfortunate" Manchester Joke," 5 July 2018 Even those who harm the environment can be cast as terrorists. The Economist, "Why Indonesia is so bad at lawmaking," 21 June 2018 Whatever the motive, the negotiations may represent a critical shift in how to deal with terrorists other than a strictly military approach. The Christian Science Monitor, "A lesson from Nigeria to Trump?," 27 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Security is at an all-time high amid fears that Windsor could be a terrorist target. Katie Nicholl, Vanities, "Royal Wedding: All the Date, Time, and Streaming Info a Royal-Obsessive Needs," 11 May 2018 India has accused Pakistan of harboring the terrorist group believed responsible for the attacks, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), allowing the group to operate out of Pakistani territory. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Aircraft Shot Down As Crisis Between India and Pakistan Escalates," 27 Feb. 2019 As the narrative goes, America leaves terrorist groups alone to fight in far-off lands like Syria and Afghanistan, and focuses on what matters at home. Dan Crenshaw, WSJ, "Troops in the Mideast Keep Terror Away," 24 Feb. 2019 In 1972 the Palestinian terrorist group Black September killed the Israeli diplomat Ami Sachori with a letter bomb sent to Israel’s embassy in London. Simon R. Gardner, The Atlantic, "98 Years of Mail Fraud," 4 May 2018 In 2016, as the BBC notes, Toby Harris, a British politician in the Labour Party, spearheaded an independent review looking into London’s preparedness in the event of a terrorist attack. Jennifer Williams, Vox, "Mysterious drones near UK’s Gatwick Airport have shut down runways for almost 24 hours," 20 Dec. 2018 Alliance cyber activities so far have focused largely on Russia and terrorist organizations in the Middle East, where member countries are active. Daniel Michaels, WSJ, "Poland Urges NATO Allies to Coordinate Against China Cybersecurity Challenges," 13 Jan. 2019 Then there’s the recovery of French tourism in general, which dropped by 1.5 million in 2016 as safety concerns rose after terrorist attacks. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Beyoncé and Jay-Z Helped the Louvre Museum Set a New World Record," 7 Jan. 2019 The two performed together at the One Love Manchester concert, a benefit that followed the tragic terrorist attack at Grande's concert in May 2017. Krystin Arneson, Glamour, "Here's How Miley Cyrus Had Ariana Grande's Back After Her Split With Pete Davidson," 23 Dec. 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.

See More

First Known Use of terrorist


1794, in the meaning defined above


1795, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about terrorist

Share terrorist

Dictionary Entries near terrorist








Statistics for terrorist

Last Updated

3 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for terrorist

The first known use of terrorist was in 1794

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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


the way words of a language are spelled

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!