Definitions

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

  • n. Any of various sea birds of the genus Sterna and related genera, related to and resembling the gulls but characteristically smaller and having a forked tail.
  • n. Games A set of three, especially a combination of three numbers that wins a lottery.
  • n. A three-masted schooner.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various sea birds of the family Sternidae that are similar to gulls but are smaller, more elegant and have a forked tail.
  • n. That which consists of, or pertains to, three things or numbers together.
  • n. A lottery prize resulting from the favourable combination of three numbers in the draw.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any one of numerous species of long-winged aquatic birds, allied to the gulls, and belonging to Sterna and various allied genera.
  • adj. Threefold; triple; consisting of three; ternate.
  • n. That which consists of, or pertains to, three things or numbers together; especially, a prize in a lottery resulting from the favorable combination of three numbers in the drawing; also, the three numbers themselves.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A bird of the family Laridæ and subfamily Sterninæ; a stern or seaswallow.
  • n. A black tern; any member of the genus Hydrochelidon. See cut under Hydrochelidon.
  • Same as ternate.
  • n. That which consists of three things or numbers together; specifically, a prize in a lottery gained by drawing three favorable numbers, or the three numbers so drawn.
  • n. In mathematics, a system of three pairs of conjugate trihedra which together contain the twenty-seven straight lines lying in a cubic surface.
  • n. A threemasted schooner; a three-master.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. small slender gull having narrow wings and a forked tail

Etymologies

Of Scandinavian origin.
Middle English terne, from Old French, from ternes, from Latin ternās, accusative pl. of ternī, three each, from ter, thrice.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From a Scandinavian language, related to Danish terne, Swedish tärna, ultimately from Old Norse þerna This definition is lacking an etymology or has an incomplete etymology. You can help Wiktionary by giving it a proper etymology. (Wiktionary)
French terne. See tern (adjective). (Wiktionary)

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