tertiary

adjective
ter·tia·ry | \ˈtər-shē-ˌer-ē, -shə-rē \

Definition of tertiary 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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

3a : 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

noun
plural tertiaries

Definition of tertiary (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Examples of tertiary in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

However, Mexico’s share of adults with tertiary education is 17 percent, the lowest among OECD countries. Gustavo A. Flores-macías, Washington Post, "Should the U.S. worry about meddling in Mexico’s July presidential race?," 29 May 2018 Quinn actually grows and matures throughout the show’s run, an opportunity not a lot of series allow their tertiary characters. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "9 'Daria' Details I'm Praying to See in MTV's Reboot," 22 June 2018 If not, the candidate with the smallest number of first-choice votes is eliminated, and his secondary, tertiary and so forth votes are redistributed. The Economist, "In praise of ranked-choice voting," 14 June 2018 Beyond that, plants have primary, secondary, and tertiary buds. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "Could a Platoon of Helicopters Have Saved Washington, D.C.'s Cherry Blossoms?," 20 Mar. 2017 In a palette of breezy pastels and tertiary hues, Eamon Ore-Giron painted hard-edge, geometric shapes that seem to fuse landscape elements represented as natural, industrial and schematic. Christopher Knight, latimes.com, "'Made in L.A. 2018': Why the Hammer biennial is the right show for disturbing times," 5 June 2018 Public spending on education as a share of GDP is growing; private education, both at school and tertiary level, is booming. The Economist, "Even though more people are doing it, studying is still worthwhile," 3 May 2018 Why are secondary and tertiary entities signing under pseudonyms and ‘cover' names? Garrett M. Graff, WIRED, "If Trump Is Laundering Russian Money, Here’s How It Works," 11 May 2018 Maternal mortality rates have declined and tertiary education rates have risen, according to McKinsey & Co. Fortune, "Men-Only Jobs and Beauty Requirements: Sexist Job Ads Abound in Chinese Tech," 23 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of tertiary

Adjective

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

circa 1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tertiary

Adjective

Latin tertiarius of or containing a third, from tertius third

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Phrases Related to tertiary

tertiary education

Statistics for tertiary

Last Updated

26 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for tertiary

The first known use of tertiary was circa 1550

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More Definitions for tertiary

tertiary

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of tertiary

: third in order, importance, or value

tertiary

noun
ter·tia·ry | \ˈtər-shē-ˌer-ē, ˈtər-shə-rē \
plural tertiaries

Medical Definition of tertiary 

(Entry 1 of 2)

2 : a lesion of tertiary syphilis

tertiary

adjective

Medical Definition of tertiary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of third rank, importance, or value

2a : 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 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

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