See more 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.
  3. pertaining to or lasting for a term or definite period; occurring at fixed terms or in every term: terminal payments.
  4. pertaining to, situated at, or forming the terminus of a railroad.
  5. Botany. growing at the end of a branch or stem, as a bud or inflorescence.
  6. Architecture. noting a figure, as a herm or term, in the form of a bust upon a gaine.
  7. pertaining to or placed at a boundary, as a landmark.
  8. occurring at or causing the end of life: a terminal disease.
  9. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Electricity.
    1. the mechanical device by means of which an electric connection to an apparatus is established.
    2. the point of current entry to, or point of current departure from, any conducting component in an electric circuit.
  6. Architecture.
    1. a herm or term.
    2. a carving or the like at the end of something, as a finial.

Origin of terminal

1480–90; late Middle English < Latin terminālis, equivalent to termin(us) end, limit + -ālis -al1
Related formster·mi·nal·ly, adverbin·ter·ter·mi·nal, adjectivenon·ter·mi·nal, adjectivenon·ter·mi·nal·ly, adverbpre·ter·mi·nal, adjectivesub·ter·mi·nal, adjectivesub·ter·mi·nal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedterminal terminus

Synonyms for terminal

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of terminal

British Dictionary definitions for terminal


  1. of, being, or situated at an end, terminus, or boundarya terminal station; terminal buds
  2. of, relating to, or occurring after or in a termterminal leave
  3. (of a disease) terminating in deathterminal cancer
  4. informal extremeterminal boredom
  5. of or relating to the storage or delivery of freight at a warehousea terminal service
  1. a terminating point, part, or place
    1. a point at which current enters or leaves an electrical device, such as a battery or a circuit
    2. a conductor by which current enters or leaves at such a point
  2. computing a device having input/output links with a computer but situated at a distance from the computer
  3. architect
    1. an ornamental carving at the end of a structure
    2. another name for term (def. 10)
    1. a point or station usually at the end of the line of a railway, serving as an important access point for passengers or freight
    2. a less common name for terminus
  4. a purpose-built reception and departure structure at the terminus of a bus, sea, or air transport route
  5. 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
  6. physiol
    1. the smallest arteriole before its division into capillaries
    2. either of two veins that collect blood from the thalamus and surrounding structures and empty it into the internal cerebral vein
    3. the portion of a bronchiole just before it subdivides into the air sacs of the lungs
Derived Formsterminally, adverb

Word Origin for terminal

C15: from Latin terminālis, from 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

Word Origin and History for terminal

mid-15c., "relating to or marking boundaries," from Latin terminalis "pertaining to a boundary or end, final," from terminus "end, boundary line" (see terminus). Meaning "fatal" (terminal illness) is first recorded 1891. Sense of "situated at the extreme end of something" is from 1805. Slang meaning "extreme" first recorded 1983.


"end point of a railway line," 1888, from terminal (adj.); sense of "device for communicating with a computer" is first recorded 1954.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

terminal in Medicine


  1. Of, relating to, situated at, or forming a limit, a boundary, an extremity, or an end.
  2. Of, relating to, occurring at, or being the end of a section or series; final.
  3. Causing, ending in, or approaching death; fatal.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

terminal in Science


  1. Electricity
  2. A position in a circuit or device at which a connection can be made or broken. See Note at battery.
  3. 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.