n. pl. ter·ri·to·ries
a. An area of land; a region.
b. The land and waters under the jurisdiction of a government.
c. A political subdivision of a country.
d. A geographic region, such as a colonial possession, that is dependent on an external government: the territories of the Holy Roman Empire.
2. often Territory
a. A subdivision of the United States that is not a state and is administered by an appointed or elected governor and elected legislature.
b. A similarly organized political subdivision of Canada or Australia.
3. An area for which a person is responsible as a representative or agent: a salesperson's territory.
4. Sports The area of a field defended by a specified team: punted the ball deep into the opponent's territory.
5. Biology An area occupied by a single animal, mating pair, or group and often vigorously defended against intruders, especially those of the same species.
6. A sphere of action or interest; a province. See Synonyms at field.
[Middle English territorie, from Latin territōrium, from terra, earth; see ters- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus