Definition of term in English:



  • 1A word or phrase used to describe a thing or to express a concept, especially in a particular kind of language or branch of study.

    ‘the musical term ‘leitmotiv’’
    ‘a term of abuse’
    • ‘The term semantics is a recent addition to the English language.’
    • ‘Every barbarian language had an equivalent term, and all of them were based on a derivative of that language's word for fury.’
    • ‘In this study we evaluated general practitioners' knowledge of terms commonly used to describe a test's accuracy.’
    • ‘The word ‘Semite’ originated as a term to describe a group of languages.’
    • ‘These efforts are called Christology, which is the term used to describe the study of the person and work of Christ.’
    • ‘This is why we started publishing the Glossary of basic scientific terms and concepts.’
    • ‘Workers also have been taught key terms and phrases in three languages, Croatian, Turkish and English.’
    • ‘It turns out to be a technical term in the study of logic and describes a specific type of logical fallacy, a form of circular reasoning.’
    • ‘Instead, they made many extremely alarming claims that used synonymous language and terms.’
    • ‘Table 1 is a glossary of terms used to describe the mechanical properties of steels.’
    • ‘But some of the older topics are now passé, and language, terms, and topics shift and adapt.’
    • ‘It is especially difficult for people whose mother tongues lack the terms in which key concepts can be expressed.’
    • ‘It is significant that the term entered the language at a time of ineffective monarchical rule, in the mid-fifteenth century.’
    • ‘In official language, this occurs through the use of technical terms - acronyms and jargon.’
    • ‘The first section provides a list of definitions for terms and phrases relevant to the group purchasing process.’
    • ‘The phrase is now a term of endearment for a child who has done something sweet.’
    • ‘You will appreciate that I spend much of my time reading the newspapers in order to turn up neologisms and other interesting terms.’
    • ‘By the way, why in a democracy is the word liberal a term of abuse?’
    • ‘What does it tell us about Hawaiian culture that the language has many such terms for bananas?’
    • ‘So, to begin with, I turn to the necessary defining of the terms and concepts to be discussed.’
    word, expression, phrase, turn of phrase, idiom, locution
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Language used on a particular occasion; a way of expressing oneself.
      ‘a protest in the strongest possible terms’
      • ‘In recent months she has shamelessly mentioned Saab on more than 30 occasions and never in less than ecstatic terms.’
      • ‘It is feasible he made his point in even stronger terms in the dressing room beforehand, but there was little evidence early on of his sermon provoking the desired reaction.’
      language, mode of expression, manner of speaking, phraseology, terminology
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Logic A word or words that may be the subject or predicate of a proposition.
      • ‘Every simple proposition contains two terms, predicate and subject.’
      • ‘There is no king of France at present; the subject term fails to refer to anything.’
  • 2A fixed or limited period for which something, for example office, imprisonment, or investment, lasts or is intended to last.

    ‘the President is elected for a single four-year term’
    • ‘I am currently the comptroller for Baltimore, serving my second term in office.’
    • ‘Just days into his first term in office, he already recognized that the roles of senator and psychologist are similar.’
    • ‘The president's woes began virtually the moment he took the oath of office for a second term.’
    • ‘However, now they have to illustrate what they plan to do in the next four years, the term of their office.’
    • ‘That is because the members of the Council are appointed for fixed terms.’
    • ‘There the Leadership is elected and its term of office is two years.’
    • ‘Such recess appointments, though rare, allow a federal judge to serve a limited term.’
    • ‘Jail term or life imprisonment or community work cannot substitute as they are not equals.’
    • ‘The elected council members are set to begin their four-year term of office on Dec.31.’
    • ‘Sources close to him say he is now talking in terms of what he could achieve in a third term of office.’
    • ‘We can only brace ourselves for the rest of his four year term in office.’
    • ‘And the same may be true for the young men willing to risk lengthy prison terms to sell it on the streets of America's cities.’
    • ‘The president is obviously at an unpopular moment in his term in office.’
    • ‘I have actually served a term of imprisonment in Britain under such a law, and Americans may find my experiences instructive.’
    • ‘Some argue that having a limit on presidential terms makes the country less democratic.’
    • ‘The president appears to have ditched his initial plan to lay out his domestic policy proposals for a second term.’
    • ‘In his second term as senator he became the acknowledged spokesman for the Southern point of view.’
    • ‘Another significant section of the overturned clauses dealt with a fixed term of office for the Chief Prosecutor.’
    • ‘He made French an official language during his first term.’
    • ‘The term of office is for four years, with a possible extension of two years.’
    period, period of time, time, length of time, spell, stint, duration
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1(especially in Scotland) a fixed day of the year appointed for the making of payments, the start or end of tenancies, etc.
    2. 2.2[mass noun]The completion of a normal length of pregnancy.
      ‘I was really keen to go to term and to have a home birth’
      • ‘In the clinic the girl's mother told me that, although born at term, Susan had weighed but 3 pounds.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, patients with severe emphysema have had successful term pregnancies.’
      • ‘The child was born at term with an uneventful antenatal, perinatal, and postnatal history.’
      • ‘The study was limited to babies born to first-time mothers who went into labor spontaneously and at term.’
      • ‘All of the mothers studied were in spontaneous labor at term with singleton pregnancies in cephalic presentations.’
      • ‘She had an uneventful pregnancy and at term underwent a cesarean section.’
      • ‘Only four of the 20 women who were anemic at 26 to 28 weeks of gestation were still anemic at term.’
      • ‘A healthy child was delivered at term, and the couple will be offered prenatal diagnosis in subsequent pregnancies.’
      • ‘These trends were found in babies born at term or prematurely and therefore reflected low rates of intrauterine growth.’
      • ‘She has an obvious abdominal protuberance, she is at term, and her time is now.’
      • ‘Information on the length of gestation of these offspring was obtained from inquiring if the child was born at term and, if not, by how many weeks he or she was early or late.’
      • ‘Four ultrasound measurements were made on each fetus within seven days of term delivery.’
      • ‘Cesarean section was performed at term because of breech presentation.’
      • ‘The same sort of findings could be equally applicable to babies born at term.’
      • ‘Pregnant women at term with rupture of membranes before labour are subjected to routine induction of labour.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, it is impossible to deliver all term breech pregnancies by caesarean section.’
      • ‘One infant born at term presented with seizures on the third day and died on the 10th day.’
      • ‘We assessed preterm and term births separately in the analysis of infant and early neonatal mortality.’
      • ‘As she progresses toward the end of her pregnancy term, she will usually demand to eat more and more.’
      • ‘He was in good general health, was born at term and was fully immunized, appropriate to his age.’
    3. 2.3US, British Law A tenancy of a fixed period.
      • ‘Unfortunately, nobody noticed that the term of years referred to in Mrs Tuttle's leases had been backdated.’
      • ‘The annual rent was low, and the tenants paid larger ‘fines’ at intervals, for example to add a new life or term of years to the lease, or when a new tenant entered the holding.’
      • ‘The new act offers the landowner freedom of contract, enabling land to be let for a term of years without the tenant obtaining security of tenure, as with the Agricultural Holding Act 1986.’
      • ‘The vendor would not sell without receiving his purchase money, and the mortgagee would not provide the purchase money without receiving the term of years.’
      • ‘The right to request a new tenancy when the tenancy ‘could be brought to an end by notice to quit given by the tenant’ was held not to apply to a lease for a term of years.’
      • ‘Then the government leases the work from the builder for a fixed term of years, during which it has to be maintained by its maker.’
    4. 2.4archaic The duration of a person's life.
    5. 2.5archaic A boundary or limit, especially of time.
  • 3Each of the periods in the year, alternating with holiday or vacation, during which instruction is given in a school, college, or university, or during which a law court holds sessions.

    ‘the summer term’
    ‘term starts tomorrow’
    • ‘Around 300,000 young people are finishing their first term at university in the UK.’
    • ‘The third bedroom had been empty since its occupant left university earlier in the term.’
    • ‘Two terms of elective subjects follow in which students may select from a wide variety of courses.’
    • ‘Across all universities, shorter terms had a notably positive effect on enlistment propensity.’
    • ‘A campaign has freed her family to allow her children to complete their school terms, but they are to be deported on July 26.’
    • ‘The year would be split into six rather than three terms, with two before Christmas and none longer than 38 days.’
    • ‘With the new term drawing near, university students are returning to the campus from their summer vacation and some don't like what they find.’
    • ‘He also worked part time tutoring during the university term.’
    • ‘Prior to 1997, subsidy distribution was based on enrollments for the summer and fall terms.’
    • ‘Will student-athletes be able to become athletically eligible for spring semester during January term?’
    • ‘For a lot of faculty members, in short, the end of a term is no vacation, but a mad scramble for survival.’
    • ‘During the college term, students are encouraged to rent accommodation in the approved student village.’
    • ‘My son has just started his first term at university reading history and politics.’
    • ‘Students heading back to start their new term at university are being given handy reminders of the warning signs of meningitis.’
    • ‘Your presentation grade will constitute one-eighth of the term's grade.’
    • ‘He had decided to stay in the US for Christmas rather than return home when the university term ended on December 9.’
    • ‘I didn't honestly think this was going to happen in my first term at the best university in Canada.’
    • ‘Student loans were also vital for funding me during the copious breaks in the student term.’
    • ‘Not to mention that my university term ended a week or two early and all students in uni accommodation were forced to leave so that it could be rented out for that month.’
    • ‘The end of the university term always ushers in the year-end student show.’
  • 4Conditions under which an action may be undertaken or agreement reached; stipulated or agreed requirements.

    ‘their solicitors had agreed terms’
    ‘he could only be dealt with on his own terms’
    • ‘Once the barrier is broken, however, I think all that falls away and a woman of either party can run on her own terms.’
    • ‘I'll meet with the family who had asked to meet with him on a number of occasions, and he should have done it on their terms.’
    • ‘Traders said rather than being encouraged to stay, they were being offered favourable terms to leave.’
    • ‘True, it might mean higher taxes and less disposable income for those who'd rather pursue their children's interests on their own terms.’
    • ‘But most of us still manage to work things out on our own terms.’
    • ‘The terms of her parole limit her to working no more than 48 hours a week at her offices and she will have to wear an electronic tagging bracelet.’
    • ‘Personal-fitness devices are letting people serve as their own coaches and work out on their own terms.’
    • ‘Did the record-company people have designs for you, or were they ready to hear you on your own terms?’
    • ‘But being able to make compromises on your own terms means you can live with them.’
    • ‘The main issues in the contract dispute are wages, harassment language and the term of the agreement.’
    • ‘Efforts to bring the two warring parties back to the negotiating table have stalled as both sides insist on their own terms.’
    • ‘But he was not prepared to commit to any decisions of policy, or reach any terms of agreement with the British Premier.’
    • ‘Similar arguments apply with regard to the terms of the agreement.’
    condition, precondition, proviso, provision, prerequisite, requisite, specification
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1Conditions with regard to payment for something; stated charges.
      ‘loans on favourable terms’
      • ‘For new clients, it was ready to provide soft loans with special terms and conditions.’
      • ‘According to the deal's terms and conditions, if you pay the loan off during the six month period, you're OK.’
      • ‘They advanced loans on very favourable terms, but the transactions ended up making huge losses the corporation could not absorb.’
      • ‘People's loans are secured with terms and conditions; it will be difficult to renegotiate.’
      • ‘You have to be flexible on payment terms and prices.’
      • ‘For high earners, some personal pensions offer equally low charges and fair terms but allow you to make higher contributions.’
      • ‘The differences come down essentially to terms and conditions - most importantly, commitment and charges.’
      • ‘They demanded wage increases and the preservation of easy terms of payment for communal services in rural areas.’
      • ‘Mr Kehoe concluded by saying that every farmer should enquire regarding the payment terms and insist on payment on the day.’
      • ‘We then proceeded to negotiate a commercial fee, terms and conditions of payment.’
      • ‘There will be an increase in the loan limit for student loans and improvements to the terms of loans to part-time students.’
      • ‘Don't be tempted into consolidation loans unless the terms are more favourable then you are currently paying.’
      • ‘There are no entry costs for any of the three products as charges are reflected in the terms and conditions offered.’
      • ‘With an Export-Import loan guarantee, they can borrow money from banks at lower rates and more favorable terms than usual.’
      • ‘The loan repayment terms will range between one and five years, depending on the credit package.’
      • ‘It is a good idea to ask the retailer what its terms and conditions are with regard to the return of goods.’
      • ‘Read the terms and conditions, such as details about delivery costs’
      • ‘They had also given large loans on very favourable terms to deputies and other prominent people.’
      • ‘He also said that the terms and conditions and pricing information are ‘very confusing’.’
      • ‘Credit terms and price charged for goods were set based upon this analysis.’
      conditions, stipulations, specifications, provisions, provisos
      rates, prices, charges, costs, fees
      View synonyms
    2. 4.2Agreed conditions under which a war or other dispute is brought to an end.
      ‘the United States played a key role in prodding the two sides to come to terms’
      • ‘The two companies eventually came to terms.’
      • ‘This broad topic was agreed upon after the two sides failed to come to terms on more specific topics.’
      • ‘Were the Japanese allowed to propose the terms of their surrender?’
      • ‘The peace effectively reinstated the Treaty of Madrid but on more favourable terms for the French.’
      • ‘As the war approached its conclusion, Lincoln on three occasions wrote his peace terms down on paper.’
      • ‘The parties should come to terms on the issue quickly before it gets out of control.’
      • ‘Both parties should come to terms and embrace dialogue.’
      • ‘In the face of the danger threatening from the north, the factions came to terms.’
      reach, reach an agreement, reach an understanding, come to an agreement, come to an understanding, make a deal, reach a compromise, meet each other halfway, establish a middle ground, be reconciled
      View synonyms
  • 5Mathematics
    Each of the quantities in a ratio, series, or mathematical expression.

    • ‘The sequence of denominators of terms in the Farey series is palindromic.’
    • ‘A geometric series is defined as having a constant ratio between consecutive terms.’
    • ‘As you go farther and farther to the right in this sequence, the ratio of a term to the one before it will get closer and closer to the Golden Ratio.’
    • ‘You might like to use a computer to approximate these functions by plotting the first few terms in each series.’
    • ‘This uses a technique known as the integral test which compares the graph of a function with the terms of the series.’
    • ‘In this case we compare terms in the series with the area under the graph of the function.’
  • 6Architecture

    another term for terminus


  • Give a descriptive name to; call by a specified term.

    ‘he has been termed the father of modern theology’
    • ‘The way matters are shaping up, next year's poll could be sunk by what may be termed rampaging indifference.’
    • ‘The company had dismissed the man three years ago for what it termed ticket sales irregularities.’
    • ‘Because of what the fire administration is terming an unauthorised visit, some firemen are up for disciplining for allowing you entry?’
    • ‘He can even be forgiven for terming some of the ringleaders of the dissatisfaction ‘rotten tomatoes’, as it seems clear they got some staff to sign a petition under false pretences.’
    • ‘Voting for the monorail system, terming it as a ‘superior alternative’, the letter added that its advantages were that it did not include any demolition and dislocation of existing traffic even during the construction stages.’
    • ‘The end result, a small budget mediocre film earned its money and was termed a hit.’
    • ‘Some people are terming the entire episode as a publicity stunt.’
    • ‘No more can he be termed aloof or arrogant nor accused of being an athlete who kept the best for himself.’
    • ‘His rare talent means Joshua has been termed an art savant, a name given to someone who is gifted in a certain area.’
    • ‘Independent schools do not like being termed as elitist and they are working hard to keep their fees down.’
    • ‘Three of the incidents were termed crashes, while three were considered hard landings.’
    • ‘We are living in a time of global conflict, termed by many the war on terrorism.’
    • ‘Obviously, the Communist press took notice of them, terming them subversive and linking them to criminal elements.’
    • ‘This rule does not change by terming it unjust.’
    • ‘Here we are, poised to embark on what could easily be termed a mission, and just how do we prepare for it?’
    • ‘Traditionally, the Vedas have been handed down from one generation to another and many were opposed to recording it in the form of a cassette terming it a commercial venture.’
    • ‘He objects to foxes being termed as vermin, but has no qualms about referring to a section of humans as vermin.’
    • ‘It is termed as the perfect predator, a mammal that can thrive in almost any habitat on earth.’
    • ‘Indeed, they are so against the conventional wisdom that they might be termed heresy.’
    • ‘A former wife of the father had termed the father a prime case for child abuse.’
    call, name, entitle, title, style, designate, describe as, dub, label, tag
    View synonyms


  • come to terms with

    • Come to accept (a new and painful or difficult event or situation); reconcile oneself to.

      ‘she had come to terms with the tragedies in her life’
      • ‘It is always difficult coming to terms with an imminent loss, but it was made much easier when such kindness was shown by an entire team.’
      • ‘By now everyone was aware of their impending doom and chaos was starting to break out, but through it all many people came to terms with their fate and accepted it.’
      • ‘We put on a brave front when there's really a need for grieving and coming to terms with the situation.’
      • ‘It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that his affable presence will be no more.’
      • ‘Many are pioneer-era women coming to terms with accepting other women into their homes.’
      • ‘This makes the fact that the lyrics are so poor even more difficult to come to terms with.’
      • ‘He said injured passengers on the ward had found it difficult coming to terms with the way they had survived when others had not.’
      • ‘It's how he comes to terms with the events of his life.’
      • ‘It's an odd paradox that as Alex comes to terms with these events from his past, he struggles to ignore and repress them.’
      • ‘I went on to describe the inclement weather and how difficult I found it coming to terms with it.’
      accept, come to accept, become reconciled to, reconcile oneself to, get used to, become accustomed to, adjust to, accommodate oneself to, acclimatize oneself to
      View synonyms
  • in terms of (or in —— terms)

    • With regard to the particular aspect or subject specified.

      ‘replacing the printers is difficult to justify in terms of cost’
      • ‘The last ceremony was a success in ratings terms, attracting half of the TV audience in Scotland.’
      • ‘In terms of diversity, students said they had more opportunities to talk with students who had different backgrounds.’
      • ‘They look good but are relatively tasteless and are less than ideal in nutritional terms.’
      • ‘He began justifying the war in human rights terms.’
      • ‘In terms of finance it brings in more than half a million pounds extra revenue over one weekend.’
      • ‘While this is plenty of distance in everyday terms, in astronomical terms, it is a very near miss.’
      • ‘The cost in financial terms is soaring, the cost in emotional terms is unmeasurable.’
      • ‘This is not yet a company that has made it in commercial terms, and there is always a chance that it will not get there.’
      • ‘In terms of academic freedom, however, the process has hardly been progressive.’
      • ‘Almost entirely grey in moral terms, it's bright and innovative in all other respects.’
      with regard to, as regards, regarding, concerning, as to, in respect of, with reference to, in the matter of, in connection with
      View synonyms
  • the long/short/medium term

    • Used to refer to a time that is a specified way into the future.

      ‘these ventures are unlikely to yield much return in the short term’
      • ‘This difficulty will impact on the short term future outlook for the sector.’
      • ‘After four decades of trying, there is no proof that the impact of aid lasts beyond the short term.’
      • ‘So it falls down the priority list, and what is achieved tends to be with a view to the short term only.’
      • ‘In the long term, mankind's very future may depend on what is being done right now in space research.’
      • ‘However, Washington must stop looking at the short term and set its sights on the long run.’
      • ‘This must not be a political decision to keep the public happy for the short term.’
      • ‘We are quite happy in principle to secure the long term future of the event.’
      • ‘In the short term, therefore, the economic facts spare the government from one agonising political choice.’
      • ‘In the short term, there is a risk that the market won't be able to absorb all the new properties being built.’
      • ‘Over the medium term, the prospects for Scotland are good.’
  • on terms

    • 1In a state of friendship or equality.

      with regard to, as regards, regarding, concerning, as to, in respect of, with reference to, in the matter of, in connection with
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1(in sport) level in score or on points.
        • ‘They were never able to get back on terms and Oxford won by four-and-a-half lengths in a not particularly rapid time of 20 minutes and 23 seconds.’
        • ‘From then on, he was never able to get back on terms with the fourth seed.’
        • ‘Five minutes later Laois were back on terms with a similar score form Stradbally's Colm Kelly.’
        • ‘Sam Bailey opened the scoring for Sutton although Heaton were soon back on terms with a penalty.’
        • ‘But Craig Winter soon put the visitors back on terms when he knocked in goal after a John Elliot corner.’
        • ‘Williams could never get on terms with O'Sullivan’
        • ‘That score brought Kilcock back on terms but the Moores' response was swift and sure.’
        • ‘Crucially, Lam made that seven with a drop-goal 10 minutes from time, leaving Saints needing two scores to get back on terms.’
        • ‘However, Sligo were back on terms within a minute or so with quick scores from Quinn and McGowan.’
        • ‘Three minutes later, the hosts were back on terms with a fine score for midfielder Seán Carolan to leave the sides tied at three points apiece at the break.’
  • on —— terms

    • In a specified relation or on a specified footing.

      ‘we are all on friendly terms’
      • ‘I expect a good welcome back because I was always on friendly terms with the fans.’
      • ‘Those who had left, left on friendly terms and most were still in contact with him.’
      • ‘Journalists who mingle on equal terms with the famous or powerful inevitably lose touch with the public.’
      • ‘He argues that private prisons should be judged not purely on cost terms but also on what they are achieving compared with other options.’
      • ‘The court heard the pair had been drinking in various pubs during the evening and had been on amicable terms.’
      • ‘The two leaders now are all smiles and on first name terms.’
      • ‘Since we are now apparently on civil terms again, I am working hard at feeling pleased for him about that.’
      • ‘She was a top class neighbour and friend who was on good terms with everyone.’
      • ‘We didn't split on bad terms, and she's made it quite clear that she's concerned for my well being in the future.’
      • ‘When we met on Wednesday we were regularly interrupted by elderly matrons who knew our man on first name terms and inquired kindly about his game.’
      • ‘Yet while the press has recorded these details, he bears no grudges and keeps on affable terms with reporters.’
  • terms of reference

    • The scope and limitations of an activity or area of knowledge.

      ‘the minister will present a plan outlining the inquiry's terms of reference’


Middle English (denoting a limit in space or time, or (in the plural) limiting conditions): from Old French terme, from Latin terminus end, boundary, limit.