The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Term \Term\, n. [F. terme, L. termen, -inis, terminus, a
boundary limit, end; akin to Gr. ?, ?. See Thrum a tuft,
and cf. Terminus, Determine, Exterminate.]
1. That which limits the extent of anything; limit;
extremity; bound; boundary.
Corruption is a reciprocal to generation, and they
two are as nature's two terms, or boundaries.
2. The time for which anything lasts; any limited time; as, a
term of five years; the term of life.
3. In universities, schools, etc., a definite continuous
period during which instruction is regularly given to
students; as, the school year is divided into three terms.
4. (Geom.) A point, line, or superficies, that limits; as, a
line is the term of a superficies, and a superficies is
the term of a solid.
5. (Law) A fixed period of time; a prescribed duration; as:
(a) The limitation of an estate; or rather, the whole time
for which an estate is granted, as for the term of a
life or lives, or for a term of years.
(b) A space of time granted to a debtor for discharging
(c) The time in which a court is held or is open for the
trial of causes. --Bouvier.
Note: In England, there were formerly four terms in the year,
during which the superior courts were open: Hilary
term, beginning on the 11th and ending on the 31st of
January; Easter term, beginning on the 15th of April,
and ending on the 8th of May; Trinity term, beginning
on the 22d day of May, and ending on the 12th of June;
Michaelmas term, beginning on the 2d and ending on the
25th day of November. The rest of the year was called
vacation. But this division has been practically
abolished by the Judicature Acts of 1873, 1875, which
provide for the more convenient arrangement of the
terms and vacations.
In the United States, the terms to be observed by the
tribunals of justice are prescribed by the statutes of
Congress and of the several States.
6. (Logic) The subject or the predicate of a proposition; one
of the three component parts of a syllogism, each one of
which is used twice.
The subject and predicate of a proposition are,
after Aristotle, together called its terms or
extremes. --Sir W.
Note: The predicate of the conclusion is called the major
term, because it is the most general, and the subject
of the conclusion is called the minor term, because it
is less general. These are called the extermes; and the
third term, introduced as a common measure between
them, is called the mean or middle term. Thus in the
[1913 Webster] Every vegetable is combustible; Every
tree is a vegetable; Therefore every tree is
[1913 Webster] combustible, the predicate of the
conclusion, is the major term; tree is the minor term;
vegetable is the middle term.
7. A word or expression; specifically, one that has a
precisely limited meaning in certain relations and uses,
or is peculiar to a science, art, profession, or the like;
as, a technical term. "Terms quaint of law." --Chaucer.
In painting, the greatest beauties can not always be
expressed for want of terms. --Dryden.
8. (Arch.) A quadrangular pillar, adorned on the top with the
figure of a head, as of a man, woman, or satyr; -- called
also terminal figure. See Terminus, n., 2 and 3.
Note: The pillar part frequently tapers downward, or is
narrowest at the base. Terms rudely carved were
formerly used for landmarks or boundaries. --Gwilt.
9. (Alg.) A member of a compound quantity; as, a or b in a +
b; ab or cd in ab - cd.
10. pl. (Med.) The menses.
11. pl. (Law) Propositions or promises, as in contracts,
which, when assented to or accepted by another, settle
the contract and bind the parties; conditions.
12. (Law) In Scotland, the time fixed for the payment of
Note: Terms legal and conventional in Scotland correspond to
quarter days in England and Ireland. There are two
legal terms -- Whitsunday, May 15, and Martinmas, Nov.
11; and two conventional terms -- Candlemas, Feb. 2,
and Lammas day, Aug. 1. --Mozley & W.
13. (Naut.) A piece of carved work placed under each end of
the taffrail. --J. Knowels.
In term, in set terms; in formal phrase. [Obs.]
I can not speak in term. --Chaucer.
Term fee (Law)
(a), a fee by the term, chargeable to a suitor, or by law
fixed and taxable in the costs of a cause for each or
any term it is in court.
Terms of a proportion (Math.), the four members of which it
To bring to terms, to compel (one) to agree, assent, or
submit; to force (one) to come to terms.
To make terms, to come to terms; to make an agreement: to
Syn: Limit; bound; boundary; condition; stipulation; word;
Usage: Term, Word. These are more frequently interchanged
than almost any other vocables that occur of the
language. There is, however, a difference between them
which is worthy of being kept in mind. Word is
generic; it denotes an utterance which represents or
expresses our thoughts and feelings. Term originally
denoted one of the two essential members of a
proposition in logic, and hence signifies a word of
specific meaning, and applicable to a definite class
of objects. Thus, we may speak of a scientific or a
technical term, and of stating things in distinct
terms. Thus we say, "the term minister literally
denotes servant;" "an exact definition of terms is
essential to clearness of thought;" "no term of
reproach can sufficiently express my indignation;"
"every art has its peculiar and distinctive terms,"
etc. So also we say, "purity of style depends on the
choice of words, and precision of style on a clear
understanding of the terms used." Term is chiefly
applied to verbs, nouns, and adjectives, these being
capable of standing as terms in a logical proposition;
while prepositions and conjunctions, which can never
be so employed, are rarely spoken of as terms, but
simply as words.