Definition of term in US 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’
    • ‘In this study we evaluated general practitioners' knowledge of terms commonly used to describe a test's accuracy.’
    • ‘But some of the older topics are now passé, and language, terms, and topics shift and adapt.’
    • ‘The term semantics is a recent addition to the English language.’
    • ‘By the way, why in a democracy is the word liberal a term of abuse?’
    • ‘The phrase is now a term of endearment for a child who has done something sweet.’
    • ‘It is significant that the term entered the language at a time of ineffective monarchical rule, in the mid-fifteenth century.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These efforts are called Christology, which is the term used to describe the study of the person and work of Christ.’
    • ‘Table 1 is a glossary of terms used to describe the mechanical properties of steels.’
    • ‘The first section provides a list of definitions for terms and phrases relevant to the group purchasing process.’
    • ‘This is why we started publishing the Glossary of basic scientific terms and concepts.’
    • ‘So, to begin with, I turn to the necessary defining of the terms and concepts to be discussed.’
    • ‘In official language, this occurs through the use of technical terms - acronyms and jargon.’
    • ‘It is especially difficult for people whose mother tongues lack the terms in which key concepts can be expressed.’
    • ‘Instead, they made many extremely alarming claims that used synonymous language and terms.’
    • ‘Every barbarian language had an equivalent term, and all of them were based on a derivative of that language's word for fury.’
    • ‘You will appreciate that I spend much of my time reading the newspapers in order to turn up neologisms and other interesting terms.’
    • ‘The word ‘Semite’ originated as a term to describe a group of languages.’
    • ‘What does it tell us about Hawaiian culture that the language has many such terms for bananas?’
    • ‘Workers also have been taught key terms and phrases in three languages, Croatian, Turkish and English.’
    word, expression, phrase, turn of phrase, idiom, locution
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1terms Language 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.
      • ‘There is no king of France at present; the subject term fails to refer to anything.’
      • ‘Every simple proposition contains two terms, predicate and subject.’
  • 2A fixed or limited period for which something, e.g., office, imprisonment, or investment, lasts or is intended to last.

    ‘the President is elected for a single four-year term’
    • ‘I have actually served a term of imprisonment in Britain under such a law, and Americans may find my experiences instructive.’
    • ‘In his second term as senator he became the acknowledged spokesman for the Southern point of view.’
    • ‘Jail term or life imprisonment or community work cannot substitute as they are not equals.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sources close to him say he is now talking in terms of what he could achieve in a third term of office.’
    • ‘I am currently the comptroller for Baltimore, serving my second term in office.’
    • ‘That is because the members of the Council are appointed for fixed terms.’
    • ‘Just days into his first term in office, he already recognized that the roles of senator and psychologist are similar.’
    • ‘We can only brace ourselves for the rest of his four year term in office.’
    • ‘However, now they have to illustrate what they plan to do in the next four years, the term of their office.’
    • ‘There the Leadership is elected and its term of office is two years.’
    • ‘The elected council members are set to begin their four-year term of office on Dec.31.’
    • ‘The president is obviously at an unpopular moment in his term in office.’
    • ‘Such recess appointments, though rare, allow a federal judge to serve a limited term.’
    • ‘Another significant section of the overturned clauses dealt with a fixed term of office for the Chief Prosecutor.’
    • ‘The term of office is for four years, with a possible extension of two years.’
    • ‘The president's woes began virtually the moment he took the oath of office for a second term.’
    • ‘The president appears to have ditched his initial plan to lay out his domestic policy proposals for a second term.’
    • ‘Some argue that having a limit on presidential terms makes the country less democratic.’
    • ‘He made French an official language during his first term.’
    period, period of time, time, length of time, spell, stint, duration
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 The completion of a normal length of pregnancy.
      ‘the pregnancy went to full term’
      ‘low birthweight at term’
      • ‘Four ultrasound measurements were made on each fetus within seven days of term delivery.’
      • ‘She had an uneventful pregnancy and at term underwent a cesarean section.’
      • ‘A healthy child was delivered at term, and the couple will be offered prenatal diagnosis in subsequent pregnancies.’
      • ‘As she progresses toward the end of her pregnancy term, she will usually demand to eat more and more.’
      • ‘These trends were found in babies born at term or prematurely and therefore reflected low rates of intrauterine growth.’
      • ‘One infant born at term presented with seizures on the third day and died on the 10th day.’
      • ‘In the clinic the girl's mother told me that, although born at term, Susan had weighed but 3 pounds.’
      • ‘All of the mothers studied were in spontaneous labor at term with singleton pregnancies in cephalic presentations.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was in good general health, was born at term and was fully immunized, appropriate to his age.’
      • ‘Pregnant women at term with rupture of membranes before labour are subjected to routine induction of labour.’
      • ‘Only four of the 20 women who were anemic at 26 to 28 weeks of gestation were still anemic at term.’
      • ‘Cesarean section was performed at term because of breech presentation.’
      • ‘She has an obvious abdominal protuberance, she is at term, and her time is now.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, patients with severe emphysema have had successful term pregnancies.’
      • ‘We assessed preterm and term births separately in the analysis of infant and early neonatal mortality.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, it is impossible to deliver all term breech pregnancies by caesarean section.’
      • ‘The same sort of findings could be equally applicable to babies born at term.’
      • ‘The study was limited to babies born to first-time mothers who went into labor spontaneously and at term.’
      • ‘The child was born at term with an uneventful antenatal, perinatal, and postnatal history.’
    2. 2.2Law A tenancy of a fixed period.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, nobody noticed that the term of years referred to in Mrs Tuttle's leases had been backdated.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 2.3archaic The duration of a person's life.
    4. 2.4archaic A boundary or limit, especially of time.
  • 3Each of the periods in the year, alternating with holidays or vacations, during which instruction is given in a school, college, or university, or during which a court holds sessions.

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

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

    • ‘In this case we compare terms in the series with the area under the graph of the function.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A geometric series is defined as having a constant ratio between consecutive terms.’
    • ‘You might like to use a computer to approximate these functions by plotting the first few terms in each series.’
    • ‘The sequence of denominators of terms in the Farey series is palindromic.’
    • ‘This uses a technique known as the integral test which compares the graph of a function with the terms of the series.’
  • 6Architecture

    another term for terminus


  • with object and usually with complement Give a descriptive name to; call by a specified name.

    ‘he has been termed the father of modern theology’
    • ‘His rare talent means Joshua has been termed an art savant, a name given to someone who is gifted in a certain area.’
    • ‘Obviously, the Communist press took notice of them, terming them subversive and linking them to criminal elements.’
    • ‘We are living in a time of global conflict, termed by many the war on terrorism.’
    • ‘This rule does not change by terming it unjust.’
    • ‘He objects to foxes being termed as vermin, but has no qualms about referring to a section of humans as vermin.’
    • ‘Some people are terming the entire episode as a publicity stunt.’
    • ‘It is termed as the perfect predator, a mammal that can thrive in almost any habitat on earth.’
    • ‘Because of what the fire administration is terming an unauthorised visit, some firemen are up for disciplining for allowing you entry?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Here we are, poised to embark on what could easily be termed a mission, and just how do we prepare for it?’
    • ‘The company had dismissed the man three years ago for what it termed ticket sales irregularities.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Indeed, they are so against the conventional wisdom that they might be termed heresy.’
    • ‘The way matters are shaping up, next year's poll could be sunk by what may be termed rampaging indifference.’
    • ‘The end result, a small budget mediocre film earned its money and was termed a hit.’
    • ‘A former wife of the father had termed the father a prime case for child abuse.’
    • ‘No more can he be termed aloof or arrogant nor accused of being an athlete who kept the best for himself.’
    • ‘Independent schools do not like being termed as elitist and they are working hard to keep their fees down.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Three of the incidents were termed crashes, while three were considered hard landings.’
    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’
      • ‘Many are pioneer-era women coming to terms with accepting other women into their homes.’
      • ‘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 is difficult to come to terms with the fact that his affable presence will be no more.’
      • ‘We put on a brave front when there's really a need for grieving and coming to terms with the situation.’
      • ‘This makes the fact that the lyrics are so poor even more difficult to come to terms with.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I went on to describe the inclement weather and how difficult I found it coming to terms with it.’
      • ‘It's how he comes to terms with the events of his life.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's an odd paradox that as Alex comes to terms with these events from his past, he struggles to ignore and repress them.’
      accept, come to accept, become reconciled to, reconcile oneself to, reach an acceptance, reach an acceptance of, 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’
      ‘sales are down by nearly 7 percent in real terms’
      • ‘In terms of academic freedom, however, the process has hardly been progressive.’
      • ‘While this is plenty of distance in everyday terms, in astronomical terms, it is a very near miss.’
      • ‘In terms of finance it brings in more than half a million pounds extra revenue over one weekend.’
      • ‘In terms of diversity, students said they had more opportunities to talk with students who had different backgrounds.’
      • ‘The cost in financial terms is soaring, the cost in emotional terms is unmeasurable.’
      • ‘Almost entirely grey in moral terms, it's bright and innovative in all other respects.’
      • ‘They look good but are relatively tasteless and are less than ideal in nutritional terms.’
      • ‘The last ceremony was a success in ratings terms, attracting half of the TV audience in Scotland.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He began justifying the war in human rights terms.’
      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.

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

    • In a specified relation or on a specified footing.

      ‘we are all on friendly 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      in a … relationship, in a … relationship with, having … relations, having … relations with, on a … footing, on a … footing with
      View synonyms


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’.