[ tur-muh-nl ]
See synonyms for terminal on Thesaurus.com
  1. situated at or forming the end or extremity of something: a terminal feature of a vista.

  2. occurring at or forming the end of a series, succession, or the like; closing; concluding.

  1. pertaining to or lasting for a term or definite period; occurring at fixed terms or in every term: terminal payments.

  2. pertaining to, situated at, or forming the terminus of a railroad.

  3. Botany. growing at the end of a branch or stem, as a bud or inflorescence.

  4. Architecture. noting a figure, as a herm or term, in the form of a bust upon a gaine.

  5. pertaining to or placed at a boundary, as a landmark.

  6. occurring at or causing the end of life: a terminal disease.

  7. Informal. utterly beyond hope, rescue, or saving: The undercapitalized project is a terminal problem.

  1. a terminal part of a structure; end or extremity.

  2. Railroads. a major assemblage of station, yard, maintenance, and repair facilities, as at a terminus, at which trains originate or terminate, or at which they are distributed or combined.

  1. Computers. any device for entering information into a computer or receiving information from it, as a keyboard with video display unit, either adjoining the computer or at some distance from it.

  2. a station on the line of a public carrier, as in a city center or at an airport, where passengers embark or disembark and where freight is received or discharged.

  3. Electricity.

    • the mechanical device by means of which an electric connection to an apparatus is established.

    • the point of current entry to, or point of current departure from, any conducting component in an electric circuit.

  4. Architecture.

    • a herm or term.

    • a carving or the like at the end of something, as a finial.

Origin of terminal

First recorded in 1480–90; late Middle English, from Latin terminālis, equivalent to termin(us) “end, limit” + -ālis -al1

Other words for terminal

Other words from terminal

  • ter·mi·nal·ly, adverb
  • in·ter·ter·mi·nal, adjective
  • non·ter·mi·nal, adjective
  • pre·ter·mi·nal, adjective
  • sub·ter·mi·nal, adjective

Words that may be confused with terminal

Words Nearby terminal

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use terminal in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for terminal


/ (ˈtɜːmɪnəl) /

  1. of, being, or situated at an end, terminus, or boundary: a terminal station; terminal buds

  2. of, relating to, or occurring after or in a term: terminal leave

  1. (of a disease) terminating in death: terminal cancer

  2. informal extreme: terminal boredom

  3. of or relating to the storage or delivery of freight at a warehouse: a terminal service

  1. a terminating point, part, or place

    • a point at which current enters or leaves an electrical device, such as a battery or a circuit

    • a conductor by which current enters or leaves at such a point

  1. computing a device having input/output links with a computer but situated at a distance from the computer

  2. architect

    • an ornamental carving at the end of a structure

    • another name for term (def. 10)

    • a point or station usually at the end of the line of a railway, serving as an important access point for passengers or freight

    • a less common name for terminus

  3. a purpose-built reception and departure structure at the terminus of a bus, sea, or air transport route

  4. a site where raw material is unloaded, stored, in some cases reprocessed, and reloaded for further transportation, esp an onshore installation designed to receive offshore oil or gas from tankers or a pipeline

  5. physiol

    • the smallest arteriole before its division into capillaries

    • either of two veins that collect blood from the thalamus and surrounding structures and empty it into the internal cerebral vein

    • the portion of a bronchiole just before it subdivides into the air sacs of the lungs

Origin of terminal

C15: from Latin terminālis, from terminus end

Derived forms of terminal

  • terminally, adverb

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

Scientific definitions for terminal


[ tûrmə-nəl ]

  1. A position in a circuit or device at which a connection can be made or broken. See Note at battery.

  1. Computer Science A device, often equipped with a keyboard and a video display, by which one can read, enter, or manipulate information in a computer system.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.