tertiary

1 of 2

adjective

ter·​tia·​ry ˈtər-shē-ˌer-ē How to pronounce tertiary (audio) -shə-rē How to pronounce tertiary (audio)
1
a
: of third rank, importance, or value
b
chiefly British : of, relating to, or being higher education
c
: 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
3
a
: involving or resulting from the substitution of three atoms or groups
a tertiary salt
tertiary amine
b
: being or containing a carbon atom having bonds to three other carbon atoms
an acid containing a tertiary carbon
tertiary alcohols
c
: 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 as
a
: being or relating to the recovery of oil and gas from old wells by means of the underground application of heat and chemicals
b
: being or relating to the purification of wastewater by removal of fine particles, nitrates, and phosphates

tertiary

2 of 2

noun

plural tertiaries
1
[Medieval Latin tertiarius, from Latin, of a third] : a member of a monastic third order especially of lay people
2
capitalized : the Tertiary (see tertiary entry 1 sense 2) period or system of rocks

Example Sentences

Adjective 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 Headaches often occur during the tertiary stage of the illness.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
At his presentation of the 2023 budget this month, Buhari complained that Nigeria, constrained by resources, can no longer fund tertiary education alone. Alexander Onukwue, Quartz, 12 Oct. 2022 Subsequently, however, most research has been limited to tertiary medical centers, predominantly of white, affluent, male populations. Tom Moon, Forbes, 29 Oct. 2021 Stored in a dynamic database uniquely capable of answering secondary and tertiary queries, these patient voices are gold for clinicians. Fabio Gratton, Forbes, 11 Nov. 2022 Practical Magic Current curricula—from early years to tertiary education—are not designed to produce individuals with the kinds of data skills that businesses need both now and in the future. Lee Harland, Forbes, 12 Aug. 2022 However, Utah is likely a tertiary candidate for Big Ten membership. Kevin Reynolds, The Salt Lake Tribune, 3 July 2022 The Stones and Led Zeppelin, top ‘80s rockers frequently included tertiary markets in their tours. Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, 27 June 2022 This bucked a season-long trend after the Bucks knocked down 36.6 percent in the regular season and finished fifth in the NBA. With Antetokounmpo at the center of the offense, Milwaukee had no issue creating open looks for their tertiary scorers. Brian Sampson, Forbes, 20 June 2022 Riot also cited teams’ ability to plan several years ahead in tandem with the developer as a tertiary benefit. Washington Post, 28 Apr. 2022
Noun
The Texans paid handsomely for a player whose career was revived in part due to serving as a tertiary option and operating out of the slot. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, 24 Mar. 2020 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Latin tertiarius of or containing a third, from tertius third

First Known Use

Adjective

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

circa 1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of tertiary was circa 1550

Dictionary Entries Near tertiary

Cite this Entry

“Tertiary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tertiary. Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

tertiary 1 of 2

adjective

ter·​ti·​ary
ˈtər-shē-ˌer-ē
1
: of third rank, importance, or value
2
capitalized : of, relating to, or being the earliest period of the Cenozoic era of geological history marked by the formation of high mountains (as the Alps and Himalayas) and the rise in importance of mammals on land
also : relating to the corresponding system of rocks see geologic time

Tertiary

2 of 2

noun

: the Tertiary period or system of rocks

Medical Definition

tertiary 1 of 2

noun

plural tertiaries
1
2
: a lesion of tertiary syphilis

tertiary

2 of 2

adjective

1
: of third rank, importance, or value
2
a
: involving or resulting from the substitution of three atoms or groups
a tertiary salt
b
: being or containing a carbon atom having bonds to three other carbon atoms
an acid containing a tertiary carbon
c
: of, relating to, or being the normal folded structure of the coiled chain of a protein or of a DNA or RNA compare primary entry 1 sense 4, secondary sense 3
3
: occurring in or being a third stage
tertiary lesions of syphilis
4
: providing tertiary care
a tertiary medical center

More from Merriam-Webster on tertiary

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