Definition of term noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//tɜːm//
    ; NAmE NAmE//tɜːrm//
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  1. 1  [countable] a word or phrase used as the name of something, especially one connected with a particular type of language a technical/legal/scientific, etc. term a term of abuse ‘Register’ is the term commonly used to describe different levels of formality in language. Synonymswordterm phrase expression idiomThese are all words for a unit of language used to express something.word a single unit of language which means something and can be spoken or written:Do not write more than 200 words. He uses a lot of long words.term (rather formal) a word or phrase used as the name of something, especially one connected with a particular type of language:technical/​legal/​scientific terms ‘Old man’ is a slang term for ‘father’.phrase a group of words which have a particular meaning when used together:Who coined the phrase ‘desktop publishing’? In grammar, a phrase is a group of words without a finite verb, especially one that forms part of a sentence: ‘the green car’ and ‘on Friday morning’ are phrases.expression a word or phrase:He tends to use a lot of slang expressions that I’ve never heard before.idiom a group of words whose meaning is different from the meanings of the individual words:‘Let the cat out of the bag’ is an idiom meaning to tell a secret by mistake.Patterns a word/​term for something a new word/​term/​phrase/​expression a technical/​colloquial word/​term/​phrase/​expression a slang word/​term/​phrase an idiomatic phrase/​expression to use a(n) word/​term/​phrase/​expression/​idiom to coin a(n) word/​term/​phrase/​expression a(n) word/​term/​phrase/​expression/​idiom means something Language BankdefineDefining terms It is important to clarify what is meant by climate change. Climate change can/may be defined as ‘the long-term fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, wind and other aspects of the earth’s climate’. A generally accepted definition of global warming is the gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere due to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is defined by the author as the process by which heat from the sun is trapped in the earth’s atmosphere, causing the temperature of the earth to rise. The author uses the term climate change to refer to any significant change in measures of climate lasting for an extended period. The term ‘carbon footprint’ refers to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of an individual or organization. Scientists suggest that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will result in an increase in global temperatures, and the term ‘global warming’ is used to describe this phenomenon.
  2. 2  (North American English also trimester) [countable, uncountable] (especially in Britain) one of the three periods in the year during which classes are held in schools, universities, etc. the spring/summer/autumn/fall term Many students now have paid employment during term. (British English) It's nearly the end of term. (North American English) the end of the term see also semester, termly, term-time
  3. 3  [countable] a period of time for which something lasts; a fixed or limited time during the president’s first term of/in office He faces a maximum prison/jail term of 25 years. a long term of imprisonment The term of agreement can be for either two or three years.
  4. 4[singular] (formal) the end of a particular period of time, especially one for which an agreement, etc. lasts the term of the loan His life had reached its natural term. This view of the economy is approaching its term (= it will soon be old-fashioned) (medical) The pregnancy went to full term (= lasted the normal length of time).
  5. 5 [countable] (mathematics) each of the various parts in a series, an equation, etc.
  6. Word Origin Middle English (denoting a limit in space or time, or (in the plural) limiting conditions): from Old French terme, from Latin terminus ‘end, boundary, limit’.Extra examples ‘Old man’ is a slang term for ‘father’. ‘Swot’ is a pejorative term for someone who studies a lot. A wide range of accounts are available, with varying terms and conditions. Blair won a third term of office. He served a five-year prison term. Her baby was born at term. Her current term runs until January 2014. His objection was couched in the strongest terms. His term expires at the end of May. I let them know in no uncertain terms how disappointed I was. I prefer the term ‘network’ to ‘community’. I think we can apply the term ‘genius’ to the painter. I was working on a term paper for a geography class. I’m on first-name terms with my boss. Iceland has had a mild winter, in relative terms. In money terms, the event was a disaster. In the long term, our efforts will pay off. Income has increased in real terms by 5%. It is a sport in which the top men and women can compete on equal terms. It’s hard to get away during term. It’s the end of term. Our opponents set the terms of the debate. She is now seeking her second term in the Senate. She tends to perceive herself in purely negative terms. The chairman spoke of the achievements of the company in glowing terms. The contract was for a fixed term of five years. The dispute was resolved on amicable terms. The law should be set out in clear terms. The lease is granted for a set term of years. The pregnancy went to full term. The president wants to make tax reform a top priority during his second term. The president was sworn in for his second term of office. The term ‘acid rain’ was coined in the 19th century. The term ‘renewable energy’ is applied, for example, to energy deriving from solar radiation. They haven’t been on speaking terms since they had that big row. Try entering the search term ‘classical music’. Under the terms of the alliance, Japan was not obliged to enter the war. We have exams at the end of term. We let them know in no uncertain terms just how disappointed we were. a term of abuse/​endearment the breach of an express term in the contract He hadn’t realized that ‘chuck’ was a term of endearment. They are both currently serving long terms of imprisonment. during the president’s first term of/​in office technical/​legal/​scientific termsIdioms
    in the long/short/medium term
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    used to describe what will happen a long, short, etc. time in the future Such a development seems unlikely, at least in the short term (= it will not happen for quite a long time). In the longer term, children of depressed mothers are more likely to suffer from childhood depression.
    in terms of something, in…terms
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    used to show what aspect of a subject you are talking about or how you are thinking about it The job is great in terms of salary, but it has its disadvantages. This title ranks alongside the Olympics in terms of importance. What does this mean in terms of cost? In terms of cost—how much were you thinking of charging? In terms of extra staff—how many will we need? In practical terms this law may be difficult to enforce. The decision was disastrous in political terms. He's talking in terms of starting a completely new career.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: term