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 formsterm·ly, adverbhalf-term, nounin·ter·term, adjectivemis·term, verb (used with object)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for terms

Contemporary Examples of terms

Historical Examples of terms

  • Tell her, said my mother to Betty, she knows upon what terms she may come down to us.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • This is the eternal agreement, but an agreement of which we find it difficult to accept the terms.

  • We can't afford any scandal, so we're going to settle at your own terms.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • They were unable, they said, to accept the terms offered by Archidamus.

  • On what terms he took the house is not known; it is not mentioned in his will.


    Edward J. Dent

British Dictionary definitions for terms


pl n

(usually specified prenominally) the actual language or mode of presentation usedhe described the project in loose terms
conditions of an agreementyou work here on our terms
a sum of money paid for a service or credit; charges
(usually preceded by on) mutual relationship or standingthey are on affectionate terms
in terms of as expressed by; regardingin terms of money he was no better off
come to terms to reach acceptance or agreementto come to terms with one's failings



a name, expression, or word used for some particular thing, esp in a specialized field of knowledgea medical term
any word or expression
a limited period of timehis 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 perioda 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
Also called: terminal, terminus, terminal figure architect 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 (def. 10)
archaic a boundary or limit


(tr) to designate; callhe was termed a thief
See also terms
Derived Formstermly, adverb

Word Origin for term

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

Word Origin and History for terms

"limiting conditions," early 14c.; see term. Hence expressions such as come to terms, make terms, on any terms, etc. Meaning "standing, footing, mutual relations," as in expression on good terms (with someone), is recorded from 1540s.



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

Medicine definitions for terms




A limited period of time.
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.

Science definitions for terms



Each of the quantities or expressions that form the parts of a ratio or the numerator and denominator of a fraction.
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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with terms


see bring to terms; come to terms with; contradiction in terms; in no uncertain terms; in terms of; on good terms; on speaking terms.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.