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 At first, they're led by the FBI to believe that two men from the masque have been smuggling something into the U.S. for a Syrian terrorist group, and the Imam somehow found out about it, and is now being punished. Jodi Walker, EW.com, "The Blacklist recap: Dead men tell no tales," 25 Apr. 2020 Those are terrorists who bring guns to things — to rallies. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "The View's Joy Behar: Stay-at-home protesters who bring guns to demonstrations ‘are terrorists’," 20 Apr. 2020 Set entirely on an airplane flying from New York to London, Non-Stop follows an alcoholic air marshal who gets caught in a deadly battle when a terrorist starts texting him. David Sims, The Atlantic, "30 Underrated Films You Should Revisit," 10 Apr. 2020 And by the way, there are terrorists in Idlib as well ... Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "Syria's war turns 9: How barbarity, confusion and indifference helped Bashar Assad prosper," 14 Mar. 2020 Turkey considers the Kurdish forces to be terrorists. Anchorage Daily News, "U.S. will not secure ISIS prisons if Kurds exit," 9 Oct. 2019 One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. Nick Romano, EW.com, "Penny Dreadful star Natalie Dormer on how Magda feeds 'the darker side of men's souls'," 24 Apr. 2020 One particularly vociferous critic was Dr. D.A. Henderson, who had been the leader of the international effort to eradicate smallpox and had been named by Mr. Bush to help oversee the nation’s biodefense efforts after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Eric Lipton, New York Times, "The Untold Story of the Birth of Social Distancing," 22 Apr. 2020 Then 9/11 happened, and her students’ homework became a record of dreams pre- and post-terrorist attack. Emma Grey Ellis, Wired, "Why Covid-19 Quarantine Dreams Are Taking Over the Internet," 16 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The Taliban has denied responsibility for the attack, and the Islamic State terrorist group has remained silent. Linda Givetash, NBC News, "Health workers fighting coronavirus around the world threatened by violence," 20 May 2020 There are people who claim that terrible events like terrorist attacks or mass shootings didn't happen. The Atlantic, "Listen: The Comforting Appeal of Conspiracy Theories," 18 May 2020 But across Afghanistan, anger was boiling at the Taliban, who are refusing to agree to a cease-fire, and by extension creating space for other terrorist groups to exploit the increasingly blurred lines of the conflict. Mujib Mashal, New York Times, "Born Into Carnage, 18 Afghan Babies Face an Uncertain Fate," 13 May 2020 So far, the European Union recognizes the two parts separately, and only the military side is classified as a terrorist group. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for May 1: Coronavirus, reopening, Senate, economy, Hezbollah," 1 May 2020 Germany, like several other European countries, had previously classed Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist group. Melissa Eddy, BostonGlobe.com, "Germany hardens ban on Hezbollah," 30 Apr. 2020 Afghanistan’s new democracy was intended to serve as a bulwark against the return of the Taliban, as well as terrorist groups like Al Qaeda that might use the country as a base for operations. Dan Xin Huang, The New Republic, "Afghanistan May Soon Have Peace. And the Cost Is Democracy.," 29 Apr. 2020 O'Neill was also instrumental following the attacks in beefing up the government's programs to disrupt financing to terrorist groups. Martin Crutsinger And Ron Todt, USA TODAY, "Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill dies at age 84," 18 Apr. 2020 With waning political support, under prime minister Abiy, Ethiopia has allowed political groups, previously labelled as terrorist group, to participate in the political arena. Samuel Getachew, Quartz Africa, "Ethiopia has postponed its national elections over coronavirus fears," 1 Apr. 2020

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

11 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Terrorist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrorist. Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for terrorist


How to pronounce terrorist (audio)

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

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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


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