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 Meanwhile in Afghanistan, Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne) is a young Marine who gets her throat sliced open while hunting a terrorist and everyone in her unit, including Nile, is a little freaked out when the fatal wound heals itself. Brian Truitt, Detroit Free Press, "Charlize Theron walks tall and carries a sweet ax in run-of-the-mill ‘Old Guard’," 10 July 2020 In 2016, an impasse over unlocking an iPhone used by a terrorist caused Apple and the FBI to butt heads. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "The encryption wars are back on in Congress. Here’s what’s at stake," 29 June 2020 But the driver was not a White power terrorist, just an apparently drunk guy. Samantha Guff, CNN, "They envisioned a world without police. Inside Seattle's CHOP zone, protesters struggled to make it real," 5 July 2020 Meanwhile in Afghanistan, Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne) is a young Marine who gets her throat sliced open while hunting a terrorist and everyone in her unit, including Nile, is a little freaked out when the fatal wound heals itself. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Review: An immortal Charlize Theron walks tall and carries a sweet ax in Netflix's run-of-the-mill 'The Old Guard'," 4 July 2020 President Trump authorized the killing of Qassem Soleimani – Iran’s terrorist mastermind earlier this year – who, there is no question, was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans. Fox News, "Sen. Tom Cotton: When Trump gets hawkish on Russia, Dems 'curl up in the fetal position'," 3 July 2020 Blood & Treasure follows a former FBI agent teaming up with an art thief to track down a terrorist. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "Half of US broadcast network dramas are about cops," 24 June 2020 The move defied the British government, which branded Adams as a terrorist. CBS News, "Jean Kennedy Smith, John F. Kennedy's last surviving sibling, has died at 92," 18 June 2020 The move defied the British government, which branded Adams as a terrorist. NBC News, "Jean Kennedy Smith, ex-ambassador to Ireland and last surviving sibling of JFK, dies at 92," 18 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Egypt and its allies Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan have worked for the past seven years to prevent a Turkish or Islamist foothold in the Arab world, banning the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization in several states. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, "War in Libya? Why two US allies are on a collision course.," 10 July 2020 Six Minnesotans ages 19 to 21 were arrested in 2015 trying to join the terrorist group. Washington Post, "Muslim woman files discrimination complaint after Target barista writes ‘ISIS’ on her cup," 8 July 2020 The law introduces four new crimes: secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country, which carry maximum sentences of life in prison. Ben Westcott, CNN, "Hong Kong was once a home for critics of Beijing. Now they might not even be safe at the airport," 3 July 2020 The drug is sold widely in the Middle East and is among the substances trafficked by the ISIS to finance their terrorist activities, police said, adding that captagon is produced mainly in Syria. NBC News, "Italian police seize 14 tons of amphetamines with possible ISIS link," 1 July 2020 Egypt’s national security prosecutor charged Monir with joining a terrorist group, spreading false news and misusing social media. Lydia Belanger, Fortune, "These 10 journalists are among countless under attack for seeking the truth," 1 July 2020 The planned law would criminalize secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security. Fox News, "Hong Kong police arrest dozens of protesters amid China's review of national security bill," 29 June 2020 The Wednesday report doesn’t just focus on Iran but also details terrorist activities across the world last year. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "US says Iran is 'world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism' in annual report on terrorism," 24 June 2020 Telegram booting far-right groups from their hub proves that platforms can, in fact, help curb terrorist recruitment in the internet age. Rita Katz, Wired, "Neo-Nazis Are Running Out of Places to Hide Online," 9 July 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

20 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Terrorist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrorist. Accessed 3 Aug. 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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