Definition of tertiary
1a : of third rank, importance, or valueb chiefly British : of, relating to, or being higher educationc : of, relating to, or constituting the third strongest of the three or four degrees of stress recognized by most linguists (such as the stress of the third syllable of basketball team)
2 capitalized : of, relating to, or being the first period of the Cenozoic era or the corresponding system of rocks marked by the formation of high mountains (such as the Alps, Caucasus, and Himalayas) and the dominance of mammals on land — see geologic time table
3a : involving or resulting from the substitution of three atoms or groups a tertiary salt tertiary amineb : being or containing a carbon atom having bonds to three other carbon atoms an acid containing a tertiary carbon tertiary alcoholsc : of, relating to, or being the normal folded structure of the coiled chain of a protein or of DNA or RNA
4 : occurring in or being a third stage: such asa : being or relating to the recovery of oil and gas from old wells by means of the underground application of heat and chemicalsb : being or relating to the purification of wastewater by removal of fine particles, nitrates, and phosphates
Examples of tertiary in a Sentence
Bill Clinton … has passed through the tertiary and quaternary stages and is well on his way to millenary integrity. —Cullen Murphy, Atlantic, January/February 2003
A tertiary care doctor at a cushy academic medical center, a plastic surgeon, and a dentist in a Pleasantville suburb don't spend much time taking care of poor patients who lack basic insurance. —Siddhartha Mukherjee, New Republic, 17 Sept. 2001
The most learned philosopher knew little more. He had partially unveiled the face of Nature, but her immortal lineaments were still a wonder and a mystery. He might dissect, anatomise, and give names; but, not to speak of a final cause, causes in their secondary and tertiary grades were utterly unknown to him. —Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein, 1818
Recent Examples of tertiary from the Web
China's weak spots included tertiary education, the regulatory environment, creative media and protection of minority investors.
Japan's tertiary industry activity index is projected to bounce back from March's monthly dip of 0.2 percent with a gain of 0.5 percent.
On June 4 last year, 11 tertiary student unions held meetings on Hong Kong identity instead of attending the candlelight vigil.
For the 2013 Finals team, Leonard was a contributor—valued for his defense against James, but clearly secondary (or even tertiary) within San Antonio’s offense.
Remaining: A handful of flagship events will return, as will the hundreds of tertiary parties and festivities throughout bars and restaurants in the area.
A select committee or an independent commission can organize its inquiry according to priority, leaving the secondary and tertiary issues to the historians.
A lack of newer rock bands breaking big could also be a factor in fans' willingness to pack larger venues to hear BJS - in secondary and tertiary markets many marque acts played 20 years ago but now mostly pass over.
The Morrison Center and Boise are moving from a tertiary market to a secondary market.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tertiary'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of tertiary
Latin tertiarius of or containing a third, from tertius third
First Known Use: circa 1656See Words from the same year
Examples of tertiary in a Sentence
Headaches often occur during the tertiary stage of the illness.
First Known Use of tertiary
TERTIARY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of tertiary for English Language Learners
: third in order, importance, or value
Medical Definition of tertiary
1: of third rank, importance, or value
2a: involving or resulting from the substitution of three atoms or groups a tertiary saltb: being or containing a carbon atom having bonds to three other carbon atoms an acid containing a tertiary carbonc: of, relating to, or being the normal folded structure of the coiled chain of a protein or of a DNA or RNA—compare primary 4, secondary 3
3: occurring in or being a third stage tertiary lesions of syphilis
4: providing tertiary care a tertiary medical center
Seen and Heard
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