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

  • adj. Composed of three or arranged in threes.
  • adj. Mathematics Having the base three.
  • adj. Mathematics Involving three variables.
  • n. A group of three.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Made up of three things; treble, triadic, triple, triplex
  • adj. Arranged in groups of three
  • adj. To the base three
  • adj. Having three variables
  • n. A group of three things; a trio, threesome or tierce

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Proceeding by threes; consisting of three.
  • adj. Containing, or consisting of, three different parts, as elements, atoms, groups, or radicals, which are regarded as having different functions or relations in the molecule.
  • n. A ternion; the number three; three things taken together; a triad.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In mathematics, having three variables.
  • In old chemistry, applied by Dalton to substances consisting of three atoms — either A + 2 B or 2 A + B.
  • n. A trinity.
  • Proceeding by threes; consisting of three: as, a ternary flower (that is, one having three members in each cycle); a ternary chemical substance (that is, one composed of three elements).
  • n. The number three; a group of three.

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

  • adj. having three units or components or elements
  • n. the cardinal number that is the sum of one and one and one


Middle English, from Latin ternārius, from ternī, three each; see tern2.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Late Latin ternarius ("consisting of a single thing"), from tertius ("third"). (Wiktionary)



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