tertiary

adjective
ter·​tia·​ry | \ ˈtər-shē-ˌer-ē How to pronounce tertiary (audio) , -shə-rē How to pronounce tertiary (audio) \

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 Princess Margaret has thus far been relegated to tertiary scenes with witty one-liners. Martha Sorren, refinery29.com, "R29 Recaps: Every Episode From The Crown Season 4," 19 Nov. 2020 Combining a handful of tertiary characters to expand Drummer's role, for example, works out magnificently. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "The Expanse S5 review: The show is bigger, bolder, and better than ever," 11 Dec. 2020 El Centro Regional is not a tertiary or quaternary care center, meaning it’s not a hospital with extensive specialty service or care. Carolyn Barber, Fortune, "‘Like drowning in slow motion’: Life on the ground at one of America’s hardest-hit COVID-19 hospitals," 1 Dec. 2020 Another 35 were secondary or tertiary cases due to contact with the primary cases in workplaces, homes, and social gatherings. David Hogberg, Washington Examiner, "Sturgis motorcycle rally spread 86 COVID-19 cases to Minnesota, CDC analysis finds," 20 Nov. 2020 Robert Plant’s recent tours have regularly hit amphitheaters, including those in tertiary markets. Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, "10 bands perfect for Huntsville Amphitheater’s first concert," 27 Oct. 2020 Those numbers include people who didn’t attend the wedding themselves but who are close contacts and tertiary contacts of wedding guests. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "Dr. Fauci Says a COVID-19 Herd Immunity Strategy Is ‘Total Nonsense’," 22 Oct. 2020 The event is linked to outbreaks that have unfolded at a nursing home and a jail, both more than 100 miles away from the wedding venue, among people who had only secondary or tertiary contact with an attendee. Theresa Waldrop, Shelby Lin Erdman And Maggie Fox, CNN, "Enough people have to take a Covid-19 vaccine for it to be efficient, Fauci says," 17 Sep. 2020 The ceremony had 65 attendees, above the state’s limit of 50, and the positive cases included 56 guests, as well as their secondary and tertiary contacts. Rachel Desantis, PEOPLE.com, "Why Weddings Are a Bad Idea amid COVID-19 — and What Is and Isn’t Acceptable," 15 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: 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, "10 most questionable signing of NFL free agency: Jets, Jaguars among teams with confounding moves," 24 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for tertiary

Time Traveler

The first known use of tertiary was circa 1550

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Statistics for tertiary

Last Updated

21 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tertiary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tertiary. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for tertiary

tertiary

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of tertiary

formal : third in order, importance, or value

tertiary

noun
ter·​tia·​ry | \ ˈtər-shē-ˌer-ē How to pronounce tertiary (audio) , ˈtər-shə-rē How to pronounce tertiary (audio) \
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 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

Nglish: Translation of tertiary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tertiary for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tertiary

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