Definition of telic in US English:



  • 1(of an action or attitude) directed or tending to a definite end.

    • ‘This biblical narrative with its telic orientation, in turn, is formative for Christian theology.’
    • ‘Owing to these reversals the linear and telic structure of the narrative is attenuated as the pursuer becomes the pursued, the hunter the hunted, the victimizer the victim, the will to kill the will to die.’
    • ‘Directed or telic group behaviour doesn't allow the full spectrum of social language because it's constrained.’
    • ‘In the book, he divides general orientations into telic (arousal reducing) and paratelic (arousal seeking).’
    • ‘And that is true of both its telic and deontic forms.’
    1. 1.1Linguistics (of a verb, conjunction, or clause) expressing goal, result, or purpose.
      • ‘We show that fast can intervene between VOICE and VP, but that it does not have access to the result state of telic verbs.’
      • ‘A "telic" clause must proceed to its conclusion in order to be true; an "atelic" clause may be interrupted and yet still be true.’
      • ‘A telic clause has an ACHIEVEMENT or ACCOMPLISHMENT verb not in the progressive, not in the simple present (which would be habitual), and with no modal.’


Mid 19th century: from Greek telikos ‘final’, from telos ‘end’.