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

Despite ominous warnings, terrorists aren’t laundering money—or influencing elections—with Libra just yet. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "Libra may be Facebook’s best defense against its enemies," 27 June 2019 Right-wing governments all over Latin America called guerrillas of many types terrorists, but the Shining Path was the only group that really earned the label. Rachel Nolan, Harper's magazine, "A Jagged Scrap of History," 24 June 2019 As the old saying goes, your evil terrorist is my heroic freedom fighter. Robert Darnton, The New York Review of Books, "David A. Bell," 17 Jan. 2019 More than one stabbing, by one terrorist, a young Palestinian. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "Tel Aviv Journal," 20 June 2019 Dunn-Koczorowski’s posts included support for Anders Breivik, the Norwegian far-right terrorist who killed 77 people in 2011, and material threatening the ethnic cleansing of Albanians. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Bloody picture of Prince Harry leads to jail for computer science student," 19 June 2019 Last year, terrorists, including ISIS fighters, killed more people in Afghanistan than in any other country. Alex Ward, Vox, "After 17 years of war, Afghan government and Taliban may meet for peace talks," 18 Dec. 2018 Of course the children born on or near Sept. 11, 2001 don’t remember that fateful, tragic event when terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into the Twin Towers in New York, part of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and a field in Pennsylvania. Donna Vickroy, Daily Southtown, "As children born in the year of 9/11 come of age, their parents describe efforts to create a better world," 5 June 2019 Skarsgård looks great, however, and that goes double (triple) for Florence Pugh, who plays Charlie Ross, a bohemian English actress recruited (unwittingly, at first) to seduce and disrupt the terrorists. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Escape at Dannemora and The Little Drummer Girl Put the Prestige in Prestige TV," 16 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

America backs Mr Sisi for the same reason: some in President Donald Trump’s administration consider the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation (and Mr Sisi is adept at flattering Mr Trump himself). The Economist, "Pyramid scheme," 6 July 2019 Regulators worldwide are concerned that Libra could be used for money laundering and terrorist financing, issues that are directly linked to identification requirements. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "Where will Facebook’s Libra be in six months?," 3 July 2019 This did little to contain the terrorist threat, and the economic chaos further emboldened the terrorists. Daniel Alarcón, The New Yorker, "What Led Peru’s Former President to Take His Own Life?," 1 July 2019 Not counting the near-miss in Iran, U.S. forces already are engaged in Afghanistan, along with counter-terrorist operations in Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere. Doyle Mcmanus, latimes.com, "Trump’s foreign policy is chaotic and terrifying. What would Democrats do?," 26 June 2019 The Pentagon and State Department objected, saying the group did not meet the definition of a terrorist entity. Declan Walsh, New York Times, "Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s First Democratically Elected President, Dies," 17 June 2019 Albright, 82, also expressed concern about the spread of hate in the world, pointing to the deadly terrorist shooting that occurred at a synagogue Poway in April as an example of her concerns. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Madeleine Albright derides nationalism during keynote speech at UC San Diego commencement," 15 June 2019 In May, Telegram banned 8,291 terrorist bots and channels. CBS News, "English-speaking ISIS supporters exploit messaging app," 6 June 2019 Theo, the aforementioned teen whose mother dies early on in the story during a terrorist incident at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, will be played by Ansel Elgort, seen here on-set with a cigarette in his mouth. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Everything We Know So Far About The Goldfinch," 29 May 2019

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

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for terrorist

The first known use of terrorist was in 1794

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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

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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 form ideas or theories about something

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