Definition of period in English:



  • 1A length or portion of time.

    ‘he had long periods of depression’
    ‘the period 1977–85’
    ‘the training period is between 16 and 18 months’
    • ‘Unlike here, there has been a significant increase in supply following the long period of inactivity.’
    • ‘A military judge can extend the period of detention incommunicado up to 90 days.’
    • ‘Benefits are usually offered after a six-month probationary period and backdated to the start of employment.’
    • ‘Generally, consumers have accepted the relatively short periods of 14 to 21 days for half or full gallons of milk.’
    • ‘The survey covered the one-year period ending November, 2003.’
    • ‘They are born in relatively short periods after long periods of social disintegration.’
    • ‘She hadn't left Hong Kong during the two-week incubation period, it said.’
    • ‘The fluvial sediments, however, represent rapid deposition in relatively short periods (days or months).’
    • ‘The prediction is based on the crimes committed so far in the period under review.’
    • ‘Both males and females undergo periods of inactivity from November until March.’
    • ‘After all, a new president enjoys a honeymoon period of three months at most.’
    • ‘The 1980s were a hectic period in his personal life.’
    • ‘It is fascinating to relate aerial photographs to maps of all periods, especially on the coast where continuous erosion and deposits often show extravagant change over relatively short periods of time.’
    • ‘One of the most enjoyable events in Bolivia is Carnival, the period preceding Lent.’
    • ‘The file dates span the period between September 1996 and April 1997.’
    • ‘Hauling and applying manure may require large blocks of time for relatively short periods throughout the year.’
    • ‘They extend the grace period for the repayment of the loan till March 2006.’
    • ‘Hopefully, the pertinent questions will be asked after the initial period of mourning.’
    • ‘On release from prison he will have to serve an extended two-year period on licence.’
    • ‘These results show that spectacular gains may be made in relatively short periods from what may have seemed the least likely candidates.’
    time, spell, interval, stretch, term, span, phase, session, bout, run, space, duration, chapter, stage
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    1. 1.1A portion of time in the life of a nation, civilization, etc. characterized by the same prevalent features or conditions.
      ‘the early medieval period’
      • ‘This strong connection between politics and music is a feature of the period.’
      • ‘We have entered a critical period in financial history.’
      • ‘Of these, 98 per cent cover the 19th and 20th centuries, while only 16 per cent cover medieval or earlier periods.’
      • ‘Also featured will be works from the Byzantine, Medieval, and Renaissance periods, as well as late 18th and early 19th century art.’
      • ‘The art forms that emerged in the early period of civilisation are primitive and catered to a people who had no alternative.’
      • ‘The life that one sacrificed to God or king in the medieval and early modern periods became, with the advent of modernity, a life offered in the name of one's country.’
      • ‘If we confine ourselves to Europe in the late medieval and early modern periods, we find that at least initial studies have been completed on England, France, Amsterdam, and parts of Germany.’
      • ‘His work has focused on the medieval and early modern periods.’
      • ‘To be sure, the public prayer forms of the West needed culling and refining by the late medieval and early Renaissance periods.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, the eighteenth century was a period of rapid urban growth.’
      • ‘Yet the 1990s was a very robust period of growth.’
      • ‘The early 1990s also was a period of persistently sluggish growth - in credit, employment and GDP.’
      • ‘Life at the bottom of society was always difficult in the late medieval and early modern periods: but around 1600 conditions for many of the poor were terrible.’
      • ‘Magical beliefs and practices existed at all social levels in the medieval and early modern periods, and were enmeshed in medical and scientific thought and techniques.’
      • ‘You said we entered a dark period in American history.’
      • ‘The late 1950s and early 1960s were a period of expansion and creativity.’
      • ‘The nineteenth century was a period of unparalleled imperial expansion.’
      • ‘In these, information about the history of the regions and archaeological discoveries bring the Viking and early medieval periods to life.’
      • ‘Economists and historians regard a reduction in real wages as one of the distinguishing features of the modern period.’
      • ‘The Book of Kells is one of the great masterpieces that has come down to us from a period often referred to as the Dark Ages.’
      era, age, epoch, time, days, years, aeon
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    2. 1.2A major division of geological time that is a subdivision of an era and is itself subdivided into epochs.
      ‘the Cretaceous period’
      • ‘Most are restricted to one or two geologic periods, and a few contain only one genus.’
      • ‘Geological periods are defined with reference to a Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point.’
      • ‘The right-hand column lists the six major epochs into which the periods are divided.’
      • ‘The Mesozoic era lasted from about 251 to 66 million years ago and includes the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods.’
      • ‘During the Cretaceous and the Tertiary periods large parts of the present subcontinent of India were flooded by multiple lava flows.’
      • ‘In contrast, dinosaur fossils have been traced in Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.’
      • ‘Evolutionists say these formations represent three different geological periods ranging from 35 to 245 million years.’
      • ‘The event, known as the Great Dying, occurred about 250 million years ago at the boundary between the Permian and Triassic periods.’
      • ‘We have additional information on the geological time periods along the top of the image.’
      • ‘Because the Miocene is closer to the present day than most other periods of geologic time, it is easier to see the effects of events, and to interpret patterns.’
      • ‘Extinctions have also occurred in all other periods of geological time.’
      • ‘Because of this, clay becomes progressively less common in older geological periods and is almost never found in Precambrian formations.’
      • ‘Despite our lack of knowledge, or perhaps because of it, researchers have divided the Precambrian into three time periods called eons.’
      • ‘This book shows the dynamic effects of the many periods of Pleistocene glacial advance and melting on the geology and topography of the northwestern United States.’
      • ‘The following table shows the three eras and eleven geological periods that comprise the Phanerozoic.’
      • ‘Historically, the Cenozoic has been divided up into the Quaternary and Tertiary sub-eras, as well as the Neogene and Paleogene periods.’
      • ‘This was accompanied by the multistage emplacement of large intrusive bodies in the Cambrian, Ordovician, and Silurian periods.’
      • ‘Later geological periods show similar patterns of sudden appearance, stasis and persistent chasms of difference between major groups.’
      • ‘The Great Dying occurred between the Permian and Triassic periods, when all of today's continents were concentrated in one great land mass called Pangea.’
      • ‘The extinction occurred at the boundary between the Permian and Triassic periods at a time when all land was concentrated in a supercontinent called Pangea.’
    3. 1.3Each of the set divisions of the day in a school allocated to a lesson or other activity.
      ‘two periods of PE are allocated on the timetable’
      ‘he interviewed the teachers when they had a free period’
      • ‘To accommodate the rich level of activity hoped for in his mathematical laboratory, he proposed that two consecutive class periods be allocated to it.’
      • ‘I would look at it later and make sense of it but, as for now, I had to get to my next lesson because the free period would probably be nearing an end.’
      • ‘I never really got why lessons were called periods.’
      • ‘Dumping her test into the inbox she left the classroom for fourth period Health.’
      • ‘Nothing could bring him down… until he reached his third period Algebra class.’
      • ‘The two of them reached the door to their first period study hall room.’
      • ‘James had a free for periods five and six, so he was in the IT room, out of the cold.’
      • ‘Walking down the hallway towards first period trigonometry Jordan smiled as she passed people.’
      • ‘My parents were a bit worried when they saw all the free periods in my timetable.’
      • ‘By the time I got to class, the first period bell was ringing.’
      • ‘Even the teacher was very interested in the argument, so she gave the class a free period.’
      • ‘I took a seat in the middle near the window in my fourth period class which was art.’
      • ‘The total lesson takes several class periods and I recite the poems to motivate my young artists many times throughout the lesson.’
      • ‘When I was looking for my third period class which is Health, the halls were really crowded.’
      • ‘Uh, you really need to take this up next period in your Comparative Religion class.’
      • ‘Youngsters coming out of school during free periods were also blamed for trouble in the town.’
      • ‘Most of my teachers were unaware of my hours of research in the school library; the reason for this was that I was supposed to be doing something else in my free periods, so I kept quiet about what I was doing.’
      • ‘Despite the fact that this lesson took several class periods to complete, I feel it was definitely worth it.’
      • ‘In my day, that meant the four boys who drank it in an alley near school during free periods (I joined them once and will spare you the details).’
      • ‘Teachers should also be in classrooms for all the periods allocated to them and those who served as councillors should be filled in for, he said.’
      lesson, class, session
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    4. 1.4Each of the divisions of the playing time of a sporting event.
      ‘the Lightnings ran at the Leafs hard in a very rough first period’
      • ‘Between periods in the locker rooms, IVs drip fluids into dehydrated athletes, who eat bananas and drink even more liquids to fight off cramping.’
      • ‘There have been 17 periods of extra time in European Championships and World Cups since the Golden Goal system began at Euro 96.’
      • ‘There were no goals in the first period of extra time but within a minute of the restart a through-ball fell to Bowers, who made no mistake.’
      • ‘A tense period of extra-time failed to produce a winning goal for either team.’
      • ‘Kinsale scored the decisive second goal three minutes into the first period of extra-time.’
      • ‘However, with almost the last kick of the game, he scored the winning point in the fourth period of extra time.’
      • ‘They turned into gaping holes in the final period when three Belfast goals in as many minutes ended the contest.’
      • ‘The second period of extra time saw the home side get a goal back.’
      • ‘There is an extra period called injury time, usually in the vicinity of three minutes.’
      • ‘The match ended scoreless in normal time, but the team conceded a goal in the first period of extra time.’
      • ‘Why is a penalty in the first period of a game in December not a penalty in the third period of a game in March?’
      • ‘But, once he scored in the sixth minute of the injury time, the script for the extra time periods could have been written.’
      • ‘In the second period of extra time United pushed hard looking again for another equaliser.’
      • ‘If games are tied at full-time an extra period will be played with the first team to score winning the game.’
      • ‘Venezuela was reduced to ten players for the second period of extra time and the pressure shifted to Uruguay.’
      • ‘He also missed a 30m penalty in the first period of extra time.’
      • ‘They totally dominated the first period, scoring five and conceding one.’
      • ‘In the first period of extra time both teams played at a frenetic pace with tenacious defending keeping Keighley's hopes alive.’
      • ‘Teams play full periods with no TV timeouts - the ultimate test of conditioning.’
      • ‘His save percentage and GAA in the third period is better than in the first two periods.’
  • 2Physics
    The interval of time between successive occurrences of the same state in an oscillatory or cyclic phenomenon, such as a mechanical vibration, an alternating current, a variable star, or an electromagnetic wave.

    • ‘To produce a larger effect, the motion must accumulate, and for wave-impulses to accumulate, they must arrive in periods identical with the periods of vibration of the atoms on which they impinge.’
    1. 2.1Astronomy The time taken by a celestial object to rotate about its axis, or to make one circuit of its orbit.
      • ‘The first problem Galileo attacked at Florence was to determine orbits and periods for Jupiter's four satellites.’
      • ‘Typical distances from the Sun are 10,000 astronomical units, and typical orbital periods are on the order of 1 million years.’
      • ‘In contrast, Jupiter-family comets tend to have predictable, well-determined orbits with short periods and low inclinations.’
      • ‘Certainly the book would be more compelling if it contained a success story on a par with accounting for the periods of the planetary orbits or the perihelion shift of Mercury.’
      • ‘The atmosphere rotates with periods ranging from over 18 hours near the equator to faster than 13 hours near the poles.’
    2. 2.2Mathematics The interval between successive equal values of a periodic function.
      • ‘In 1834 Jacobi proved that if a single-valued function of one variable is doubly periodic then the ratio of the periods is imaginary.’
      • ‘What is the period of the continued fractions of the following numbers?’
  • 3A flow of blood and other material from the lining of the uterus, lasting for a few days and occurring in sexually mature women who are not pregnant at intervals of about one lunar month until the menopause.

    ‘she's got her period’
    [as modifier] ‘period pains’
    • ‘Some older women think the absence of periods is related to menopause and not pregnancy.’
    • ‘Examples include when a partner leaves, pregnancies among very young women, those with irregular periods or at the menopause, or when testing has shown a baby with abnormalities.’
    • ‘During puberty or nearing menopause, many women have irregular periods so no treatment is necessary.’
    • ‘You then need to use progesterone pessaries until your periods start again.’
    • ‘It is common to have heavy blood flow at the beginning of a period and lighter blood flow at the end.’
    • ‘If a woman does not have periods (due to menopause or removal of uterus), then it may be done on a fixed day of the month.’
    • ‘It affects women much more often than men, because women lose some blood in each menstrual period between puberty and the menopause.’
    • ‘Amenorrhoea is the absence of periods (menstruation).’
    • ‘Three standard gynecological texts state that the commonly observed interval between menstrual periods is 26 to 30 days, 24 to 32 days, and 24 to 35 days.’
    • ‘Sometimes the cause is clear, for example in women who are pregnant or have heavy periods.’
    • ‘Amenorrhea just means an absence of menstrual cycles or periods for at least about three to six months, and the particular type of amenorrhea that we were studying is called hypothalamic.’
    • ‘It mostly affects women between the ages of 50 and 70, who have been through the menopause (when your periods stop).’
    • ‘A headache diary may be necessary to confirm the relationship between migraine and menstruation, especially if periods are irregular.’
    • ‘About 60% of women who say they have heavy periods are found to have normal periods when their blood loss is measured.’
    • ‘Many women don't suspect they're pregnant until their period doesn't arrive.’
    • ‘Women may also experience painful periods and pain during sexual intercourse.’
    • ‘Because sex during menstruation may increase the chances of transmitting or contracting HIV, it may be safer for women to wait until their periods are over to have sex.’
    • ‘During early pregnancy, some women develop acne, especially those who were prone to breakouts during menstrual periods before becoming pregnant.’
    • ‘Most women have some crampy pain with their periods, especially as teenagers.’
    • ‘Women who receive chemotherapy may have a change in their periods or menstrual cycles.’
    menstruation, menstrual flow
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  • 4North American A full stop.

    • ‘Small pauses were commas, larger ones were semicolons and colon; and periods of course were the longest pause of all.’
    full stop, full point, point, stop
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    1. 4.1informal Added to the end of a statement to indicate that no further discussion is possible or desirable.
      ‘he is the sole owner of the trademark, period’
      • ‘"You hate cats period, " Tiffany reminded her fondly.’
      • ‘He could simply have said he favours public ownership, full stop, period.’
      and that's that, and that is the end of the matter, full stop, finis
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  • 5Chemistry
    A set of elements occupying a horizontal row in the periodic table.

    • ‘The horizontal rows or periods also have predictable trends in characteristics because as you move left to right in a row only one electron is added changing the atomic number by one.’
    • ‘As we move down the periods, the elements have a greater atomic weight.’
  • 6Rhetoric
    A complex sentence, especially one consisting of several clauses, constructed as part of a formal speech or oration.

    • ‘There is frequently poor closure of periods and an inept employment of rhythm in the closure of stanzas and of poems.’
    1. 6.1Music A complete idea, typically consisting of two or four phrases.
      • ‘His's an oceanic performance that gives emphasis to the work's undulating hemiolas as they reach across bar lines and destabilize phrase periods.’


  • [attributive] Belonging to or characteristic of a past historical time, especially in style or design.

    ‘an attractive and beautifully modernized period house’
    ‘a splendid selection of period furniture’
    • ‘However, although much work was needed, care was taken to preserve the period style of the mansion.’
    • ‘The houses would need to be empty and if they have period furniture and furnishings that would be an extra advantage.’
    • ‘This old period house and shop front set beside the bridge and River Moy has a mystique all of its own.’
    • ‘We are in the early 1970s, with plenty of gleaming period automobiles rolling past on cue.’
    • ‘The owners of one of the most important period houses in Cork are to cut their losses after a bitter planning saga.’
    • ‘First performed in 1948, it is interesting today only as a period piece.’
    • ‘A home that has both period style and modern comforts - is it perfection?’
    • ‘The anniversary of a momentous battle fought only a few miles from York has been marked in period style.’
    • ‘The walls are painted in a soft cream colour and there are period style fireplaces at either end.’
    • ‘This stylishly renovated period lodge has been designed to take full advantage of the mature front garden.’
    • ‘This house is a great blend of period qualities and contemporary design.’
    • ‘They are furnished in period style and presented to the public as representative of a national or regional cultural tradition.’
    • ‘The room is furnished with expensive period furniture and even an antique gramophone.’
    • ‘One of the highlights of the weekend will be period re-enactments of historical trials in the old Law Courts in City Hall.’
    • ‘There are eight suites - all decorated by Patricia with French period furniture.’
    • ‘He said that period houses of this type and location were among some of the most popular in the city.’
    • ‘At the first event some people were unsure about dressing up in period costume.’
    • ‘The hotel's 64 rooms are in comfortable period style, with heavy doors and lots of antiques and arches.’
    • ‘Each of the five apartments is spacious and well-equipped and decorated in period style.’
    • ‘Some town councillors donned period costume to add to the authenticity of the celebrations.’
    in period style, period, nostalgic, evocative, of yesteryear, olde worlde
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  • put a period to

    • dated Put an end to.

      ‘in dry climates, the onset of summer drought may put a period to plant activity’
      • ‘‘They say they want to put a period to my presidency.’’
      • ‘Plot had not originally intended to include such material in the book since he believed that the chapter on arts had ‘finish'd the Natural History of Oxford-shire’ and prompted him ‘accordingly [to] here put a period to my Essay!’’
      • ‘Then there's a lull; people stare into their empty glasses, then pat the table with open palms and put a period to our merry night.’
      • ‘Why are you determined to put a period to your own existence if his is the pistol that's primed?’
      • ‘After all, he alone correctly predicted her response, warning him that she could not outlive the ‘perpetrated outrage,’ and that ‘wasting grief [would] put a period to her days ’.’
      bring to an end, bring to a close, finish, close, wind up, terminate, dissolve
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Late Middle English (denoting the time during which something, especially a disease, runs its course): from Old French periode, via Latin from Greek periodos orbit, recurrence, course, from peri- around + hodos way, course. The sense ‘portion of time’ dates from the early 17th century.