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term (tûrm)
1. 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.
a. A point in time at which something ends; termination: an apprenticeship nearing its term.
b. The end of a normal gestation period: carried the fetus to term.
c. A deadline, as for making a payment.
3. Law
a. A fixed period of time for which an estate is granted.
b. An estate granted for a fixed period.
a. A word or group of words having a particular meaning, especially in a specific field: I was baffled by the technical terms that the programmers were using.
b. terms Language of a certain kind; chosen words: spoke in rather vague terms; praised him in glowing terms.
5. often terms One of the elements of a proposed or concluded agreement; a condition: offered favorable peace terms; one of the terms of the lease; the terms of a divorce settlement.
6. terms The relationship between two people or groups; personal footing: on good terms with her in-laws.
7. Mathematics
a. One of the quantities composing a ratio or fraction or forming a series.
b. One of the quantities connected by addition or subtraction signs in an equation; a member.
8. Logic Each of the two concepts being compared or related in a proposition.
a. A stone or post marking a boundary, especially a squared and downward-tapering pillar adorned with a head and upper torso.
b. An architectural or decorative motif resembling such a marker.
tr.v. termed, term·ing, terms
To designate; call.
in terms of
1. As measured or indicated by; in units of: distances expressed in terms of kilometers as well as miles; cheap entertainment, but costly in terms of time wasted.
2. In relation to; with reference to: "narcissistic parents who ... interpret their child's experience entirely in terms of their own history" (Richard Weissbourd).

[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.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.