[ tur-nuh-ree ]
/ ˈtɜr nə ri /


noun, plural ter·na·ries.

a group of three.

Nearby words

  1. terms of trade,
  2. termwise,
  3. tern,
  4. tern foot,
  5. terna,
  6. ternary form,
  7. ternary operation,
  8. ternate,
  9. ternately,
  10. terne

Origin of ternary

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin ternārius made up of three. See tern2, -ary

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ternary

British Dictionary definitions for ternary


/ (ˈtɜːnərɪ) /


consisting of three or groups of three
  1. (of a number system) to the base three
  2. involving or containing three variables
(of an alloy, mixture, or chemical compound) having three different components or composed of three different elements

noun plural -ries

a group of three

Word Origin for ternary

C14: from Latin ternārius, from ternī three each

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 ternary



early 15c., from Late Latin ternarius "consisting of three," from terni "three by three," from ter "thrice," which is related to tres "three" (see three).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for ternary


[ tûrnə-rē ]


Composed of three or arranged in threes, as a chemical compound containing three elements.


A group of three.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.