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[turm] /tɜrm/
a word or group of words designating something, especially in a particular field, as atom in physics, quietism in theology, adze in carpentry, or district leader in politics.
any word or group of words considered as a member of a construction or utterance.
the time or period through which something lasts.
a period of time to which limits have been set:
elected for a term of four years.
one of two or more divisions of a school year, during which instruction is regularly provided.
an appointed or set time or date, as for the payment of rent, interest, wages, etc.
  1. conditions with regard to payment, price, charge, rates, wages, etc.:
    reasonable terms.
  2. conditions or stipulations limiting what is proposed to be granted or done:
    the terms of a treaty.
  3. footing or standing; relations:
    on good terms with someone.
  4. Obsolete. state, situation, or circumstances.
Algebra, Arithmetic.
  1. each of the members of which an expression, a series of quantities, or the like, is composed, as one of two or more parts of an algebraic expression.
  2. a mathematical expression of the form axp, axpyq, etc., where a, p, and q are numbers and x and y are variables.
  1. the subject or predicate of a categorical proposition.
  2. the word or expression denoting the subject or predicate of a categorical proposition.
Also called terminus. a figure, especially of Terminus, in the form of a herm, used by the ancient Romans as a boundary marker; terminal figure.
  1. an estate or interest in land or the like, to be enjoyed for a fixed period.
  2. the duration of an estate.
  3. each of the periods during which certain courts of law hold their sessions.
completion of pregnancy; parturition.
  1. end, conclusion, or termination.
  2. boundary or limit.
verb (used with object)
to apply a particular term or name to; name; call; designate.
bring to terms, to force to agree to stated demands or conditions; bring into submission:
After a long struggle, we brought them to terms.
come to terms,
  1. to reach an agreement; make an arrangement:
    to come to terms with a creditor.
  2. to become resigned or accustomed:
    to come to terms with one's life.
eat one's terms, British Informal. to study for the bar; be a law student.
in terms of, with regard to; concerning:
The book offers nothing in terms of a satisfactory conclusion.
Origin of term
1175-1225; Middle English terme < Old French < Latin terminus boundary, limit, end; akin to Greek térmōn limit
Related forms
termly, adverb
half-term, noun
interterm, adjective
misterm, verb (used with object)


term of art

a word or phrase that has a specific or precise meaning within a given discipline or field and might have a different meaning in common usage:
Set is a term of art used by mathematicians, and burden of proof is a term of art used by lawyers.
Also called word of art.
See also art1 (def 9). Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for term
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This was my position on the plantation a short time after school was out for the term.

    Biography of a Slave Charles Thompson
  • I made no objection, and was duly hired for the term of three years.

    Biography of a Slave Charles Thompson
  • Now, she quickened her pace, anxious for the plunge that should set the term to sorrow.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • The bread was genuine homemade, a term so often misused in the cities.

  • It is national in the broadest sense of the term, and primative and forcible to intensity.

    Ridgeway Scian Dubh
British Dictionary definitions for term


a name, expression, or word used for some particular thing, esp in a specialized field of knowledge: a medical term
any word or expression
a limited period of time: his second term of office, a prison term
any of the divisions of the academic year during which a school, college, etc, is in session
a point in time determined for an event or for the end of a period
Also called full term. the period at which childbirth is imminent
  1. an estate or interest in land limited to run for a specified period: a term of years
  2. the duration of an estate, etc
  3. (formerly) a period of time during which sessions of courts of law were held
  4. time allowed to a debtor to settle
(maths) either of the expressions the ratio of which is a fraction or proportion, any of the separate elements of a sequence, or any of the individual addends of a polynomial or series
  1. the word or phrase that forms either the subject or predicate of a proposition
  2. a name or variable, as opposed to a predicate
  3. one of the relata of a relation
  4. any of the three subjects or predicates occurring in a syllogism
(architect) Also called terminal, terminus, terminal figure. a sculptured post, esp one in the form of an armless bust or an animal on the top of a square pillar
(Australian rules football) the usual word for quarter (sense 10)
(archaic) a boundary or limit
(transitive) to designate; call: he was termed a thief
See also terms
Derived Forms
termly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: from Old French terme, from Latin terminus end
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for term

early 13c., terme "limit in time, set or appointed period," from Old French terme "limit of time or place" (11c.), from Latin terminus "end, boundary line," related to termen "boundary, end" (see terminus). Old English had termen "term, end," from Latin. Sense of "period of time during which something happens" first recorded c.1300, especially of a school or law court session (mid-15c.).

The meaning "word or phrase used in a limited or precise sense" is first recorded late 14c., from Medieval Latin use to render Greek horos "boundary," employed in mathematics and logic. Meaning "completion of the period of pregnancy" is from 1844. Term-paper in U.S. educational sense is recorded from 1931.


"to give a particular name to," mid-16c., from term (n.). Related: Termed; terming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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term in Medicine

term (tûrm)

  1. A limited period of time.

  2. The end of a normal gestation period.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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term in Science
  1. Each of the quantities or expressions that form the parts of a ratio or the numerator and denominator of a fraction.

  2. Any of the quantities in an equation that are connected to other quantities by a plus sign or a minus sign.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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