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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
The Starks play a small part in the Dance of Dragons, but opening the season with a secondary, nay, tertiary character is a wild choice. Proma Khosla, IndieWire, 16 June 2024 There’s an obvious argument here that the tertiary parties shouldn’t benefit at all. Kyndall Cunningham, Vox, 21 May 2024
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 all Example Sentences for tertiary 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tertiary.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 21 Jun. 2024.

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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