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

From their phones and screens, unemployed and underemployed young Saudis consume the West’s blandishments, as well as the sermons of jihadist preachers and the enticements of global terrorists. Karen Elliott House, WSJ, "Rethinking Saudi Arabia," 30 Nov. 2018 In 2016, the FBI struggled to unlock the iPhone of one of the terrorists who killed 14 people in San Bernardino. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "FBI Unlocks a Suspect's iPhone Using His Face," 1 Oct. 2018 When a group of terrorists invade the building and start blowing things up, Johnson is the only one who can stop them, all in the name of protecting his family. Chris Thilk, The Hollywood Reporter, "Dwayne Johnson's 'Skyscraper' Sells Itself as an Action Throwback," 13 July 2018 Meanwhile, an underground collective of art terrorists monkey-wrenches billboards and other mediums of the Man, and the lumpen-telemarketers left behind by Cash rally to unionize. Ty Burr, BostonGlobe.com, "Why we should be thankful for ‘Sorry to Bother You’," 11 July 2018 The actual enemies of the people are racists and terrorists and a bunch of other 'ists. Jason Williams, Cincinnati.com, "PX column: I'm not your enemy. Let's hope Trump tones down attacks on media after shooting," 29 June 2018 Some content will be wrongly identified as terrorist and blocked or removed. Stuart Macdonald, Scientific American, "How Tech Companies Are Trying to Disrupt Terrorist Social Media Activity," 26 June 2018 Turns out, Karim's big brother is a famous terrorist. Michael Heaton, cleveland.com, "'Beirut' takes on the Middle East conflict of the '80s (review)," 13 Apr. 2018 Press reports said then that Western intelligence services were concerned about the possibility of Iran stepping up terrorist attacks in Europe and the U.S. Denmark wants the EU to impose new sanctions on Iran. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Iran’s European Hit Squads," 30 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In this fictional scenario, a terrorist group constructed a virus that was both deadly and highly contagious. R. Daniel Bressler, Vox, "“Designer bugs”: how the next pandemic might come from a lab," 6 Dec. 2018 Since 2017 Israel has launched 200 airstrikes against targets in Syria, particularly against the terrorist group Hezbollah. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Syria Accidentally Shot Down a Russian Plane. Now Russia Is Giving Syria Better Missiles.," 27 Sep. 2018 The system is currently used to share data about money laundering and terrorist financing. Lisa Ward, WSJ, "Banks Monitor Older Customers for Cognitive Decline," 20 Nov. 2018 What transpires is ludicrous, if gripping in a pulpy sort of way (a fearsome terrorist inmate is actually a supernatural demon bent on exposing the venality of the authoritarian state). Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Which of These New TV International Thrillers Should You Binge?," 30 Aug. 2018 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

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

8 Dec 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


to make faulty or ineffective

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