Definition of terrorist in English:



  • A person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

    ‘four commercial aircraft were hijacked by terrorists’
    ‘a suspected terrorist’
    • ‘To many in the world, those who had carried out these killings were heartless terrorists.’
    • ‘Most terrorists know exactly what they are doing and the effect they want to produce.’
    • ‘I believe what they mean is that they are fighting terrorists and leaving them no safe haven.’
    • ‘The great and the good are telling us that we must not change policy in deference to terrorists.’
    • ‘If only by chance, it would seem likely that some of the detainees might be terrorists.’
    • ‘The search is on for the terrorists and politicians are trying to calm the public down.’
    • ‘So did you know that terrorists need places to live, a plan, money and equipment?’
    • ‘Children also thought about the terrorists and what was going through their minds at the time.’
    • ‘Messages don't even need to come from known terrorists in order to terrorise these days.’
    • ‘He made it clear that he considered those involved in sectarian violence to be terrorists.’
    • ‘The biggest danger to society is what would happen if these terrorists did get their own way.’
    • ‘Yes, we should know that there are terrorists who have ideas and plans to do us harm.’
    • ‘It's on a par with removing everyone's freedoms in a bid to catch a few terrorists.’
    • ‘More than a decade of civil war and anarchy have made it an almost perfect base for terrorists.’
    • ‘It can demonstrate that democratic values are superior to those of the terrorist.’
    • ‘Finally, the last man is an international terrorist on his way to the airport to hijack a plane.’
    • ‘People are not born as terrorists but as they progress through life they can become one.’
    • ‘Terrorism is not a nation and terrorists are not an army that you can send troops against.’
    • ‘I could see real terror on their faces and thought it might be a terrorist attack.’
    • ‘We are worried about international terrorism, and those who harbor international terrorists.’
    bomber, arsonist, incendiary
    gunman, assassin, desperado
    revolutionary, radical, guerrilla, urban guerrilla, subversive, anarchist, freedom fighter
    insurrectionist, insurrectionary
    View synonyms


  • [attributive] Unlawfully using violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

    ‘a terrorist organization’
    ‘terrorist attacks’


Late 18th century: from French terroriste, from Latin terror (see terror). The word was originally applied to supporters of the Jacobins in the French Revolution, who advocated repression and violence in pursuit of the principles of democracy and equality.