from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A limited or established period of time that something is supposed to last, as a school or court session, tenure in public office, or a prison sentence.
  • noun A point in time at which something ends; termination.
  • noun The end of a normal gestation period.
  • noun A deadline, as for making a payment.
  • noun A fixed period of time for which an estate is granted.
  • noun An estate granted for a fixed period.
  • noun A word or group of words having a particular meaning, especially in a specific field.
  • noun Language of a certain kind; chosen words.
  • noun One of the elements of a proposed or concluded agreement; a condition.
  • noun The relationship between two people or groups; personal footing.
  • noun One of the quantities composing a ratio or fraction or forming a series.
  • noun One of the quantities connected by addition or subtraction signs in an equation; a member.
  • noun Logic Each of the two concepts being compared or related in a proposition.
  • noun A stone or post marking a boundary, especially a squared and downward-tapering pillar adorned with a head and upper torso.
  • noun An architectural or decorative motif resembling such a marker.
  • transitive verb To designate; call.
  • idiom (in terms of) As measured or indicated by; in units of.
  • idiom (in terms of) In relation to; with reference to.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To name; call; denominate; designate.
  • noun A bound; a boundary; limit; the extremity of anything, or that which limits its extent; a confine; end; termination; completion.
  • noun In geometry, the extreme of any magnitude, or that which limits or bounds its extent: as, the terms of a line are points, the terms of a superficies are lines, and the terms of a solid are superficies. See also def. 9.
  • noun Outcome; final issue.
  • noun A figure of Terminus, the god of boundaries; a terminal figure. See terminus, 3.
  • noun In ship-building, a piece of carved work placed under each end of the taffrail, and extending to the foot-rail of the balcony. Also called term-piece.
  • noun A space or period of time to which limits have been set; the time or period through which something runs its course, or lasts or is intended to last: as, he was engaged for a term of five years; his term of office has expired.
  • noun Specifically— In universities, colleges, and schools, one of certain stated periods during which instruction is regularly given to students or pupils. At the University of Cambridge, England, there arc three terms in the university year—namely, Michaelmas or October term, Lent or January term, and Easter or midsummer term. At the University of Oxford there are four terms—namely, Michaelmas, Hilary, Easter, and Trinity. In American universities and colleges there are usually three terms, beginning in September, January, and April, and called first, second, and third, or fall, winter, and spring terms respectively.
  • noun In law, the period during which a court of justice may-hold its sessions from day to day for the trial of causes; a part of the year in which the justices of the superior common-law courts of general jurisdiction hold sessions of the courts, as distinguished from vacations, during which, on religious and business grounds, attendance at the courts cannot be required from parties or witnesses. The importance of the distinction between term time and vacation, in both American and English law, is in the fact that for the just protection of the public a court can only exist and exercise its powers within the time as well as at the place prescribed by law; and, while many ministerial acts, such as the bringing of actions, and the course of pleading, the entry of judgment, the issue of process, etc., can be carried on in the clerk's office upon any secular day, actual sessions of the court itself can only be held during term time. In England, before the present judicature act, the law terms were four in number—namely, Hilary term (compare Hilarymas), beginning on the 11th and ending on the 31st of January; Easter term, from about the 15th of April to the 8th of May; Trinity term, from the 22d of May to the 12th of June; and Michaelmas term, from the 2d to the 26th of November. These have now been superseded as terms for the administration of justice by “sittings,” bearing similar names. For the High Court of Justice in London and Middlesex the Hilary sittings extend from the 11th of January to the Wednesday before Easter, the Easter sittings from the Tuesday after Easter week to the Friday before Whitsunday, the Trinity sittings from the Tuesday after Whitsun week to the 8th of August, and the Michaelmas sittings from the 2d of November to the 21st of December.
  • noun An estate or interest in land to be enjoyed for a fixed period: called more fully term of years, term for years.
  • noun The period of time for which such an estate is held.
  • noun In Scots law, a certain time fixed by authority of a court within which a party is allowed to establish by evidence his averment.
  • noun An appointed or set time.
  • noun Specifically— A day on which rent or interest is payable. In England and Ireland there are four days in the year which are called terms, or more commonly quarter-days, and which are appointed for the settling of rents—namely, Lady day, March 25th; Midsummer, June 24th; Michaelmas day, September 29th; and Christmas, December 25th. The terms in Scotland corresponding to these are Candlemas, February 2d; Whitsunday, May 15th; Lammas, August 1st; and Martinmas, November 11th. In Scotland houses are let from May 28th for a year or a period of years. The legal terms in Scotland for the payment of rent or interest are Whitsunday, May 15th, and Martinmas, November 11th, and these days are most commonly known as terms.
  • noun The day, occurring half-yearly, on which farm and domestic servants in Great Britain receive their wages or enter upon a new period of service.
  • noun The menstrual period of women.
  • noun In mathematics: The antecedent or consequent of a ratio.
  • noun In algebra, a part of an expression joined to the rest by the sign of addition, or by that of subtraction considered as adding a negative quantity.
  • noun In logic, a name, especially the subject or predicate of a proposition; also, a name connected with another name by a relation; a correlative.
  • noun Hence A word or phrase expressive of a definite conception, as distinguished from a mere particle or syncategorematic word; a word or phrase particularly definite and explicit; especially, a word or phrase used in a recognized and definite meaning in some branch of science.
  • noun plural Propositions stated and offered for acceptance; conditions; stipulations: as, the terms of a treaty; hence, sometimes, conditions as regards price, rates, or charge: as, board and lodging on reasonable terms; on one's own terms; lowest terms offered.
  • noun plural Relative position; relation; footing: with on or upon: as, to be on good or bad terms with a person.
  • noun plural State; situation; circumstances; conditions.
  • noun [Shakspere uses terms often in a loose, periphrastical way: as, “To keep the terms of my honour precise.” M. W. of W., ii. 2. 22 (that is, all that concerns my honor); “In terms of choice I am not solely led by nice direction of a maiden's eye” (that is, with respect to the choice). In other cases it is used in the sense of ‘point.’ ‘particular feature,’ ‘peculiarity’: as, “All terms of pity,” All's Well, ii. 3. 173.]
  • noun In astrology, a part of a zodiacal sign in which a planet is slightly dignified; an essential dignity.
  • noun In modes of: a common misuse as applied to modes of thought (properly, a term is opposed to an idea).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To apply a term to; to name; to call; to denominate.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English terme, from Old French, from Latin terminus, boundary. N., senses 4–8, from Middle English, from Medieval Latin terminus, from Late Latin, mathematical or logical term, from Latin, boundary, limit.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English terme, from Old French terme, from Latin terminus ("a bound, boundary, limit, end, in Medieval Latin also a time, period, word, covenant, etc.").


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