Definition of tertiary in English:


Line breaks: ter|tiary
Pronunciation: /ˈtəːʃ(ə)ri


  • 1Third in order or level: the tertiary stage of the disease
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    • Yet the poor still resort to the public services for more of their secondary and tertiary level care than do the better off.
    • There is a strong echo of elegance, but the tertiary flavours of nut and oxidised or Madeira-like notes are now coming to the foreground.
    • The Mediterranean theater has long been a theater of tertiary importance to the legion of historians writing about World War II.
  • 1.1chiefly British Relating to or denoting education at a level beyond that provided by schools, especially that provided by a college or university.
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    • In response to the need to improve access to tertiary education, universities are increasingly implementing online delivery solutions.
    • Physicians and some nurses are educated at universities, and tertiary education is expensive.
    • The scholarship also involves tertiary study through the University of Queensland.
  • 1.2Relating to or denoting the medical treatment provided at a specialist institution: patients in tertiary care
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    • A dermatologist from an academic tertiary care medical center agreed to serve as an expert consultant.
    • He continued to have moderate angina and was referred to a tertiary care medical center for evaluation.
    • During 1990-2000, 194 new patients were referred to a specialist tertiary centre for the treatment and management of venous leg ulcers.
  • 2 (Tertiary) Geology Relating to or denoting the first period of the Cenozoic era, between the Cretaceous and Quaternary periods, and comprising the Palaeogene and Neogene sub-periods.
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    • The annihilation of the dinosaurs marks the boundary linking Cretaceous time and Tertiary time.
    • In contrast to parts of the External Hellenides, the Menderes nappes do not show Tertiary high-pressure metamorphism.
    • A cover of undeformed Middle-Upper Miocene to Pliocene rocks is present in all the Tertiary basins.
  • 3 Chemistry (Of an organic compound) having its functional group located on a carbon atom which is itself bonded to three other carbon atoms.
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    • If the hydroxyl group is bound to a carbon atom that is itself bound to three other carbon atoms then the resultant alcohol is a tertiary alcohol.
    • The reaction of Grignard reagents with carbonyl compounds is used to prepare primary, secondary, and tertiary alcohols.
    • Esters can be used to manufacture tertiary alcohols by using a Grignard reagent.
  • 3.1(Chiefly of amines) derived from ammonia by replacement of three hydrogen atoms by organic groups.
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    • This photoreaction is highly dependent on the amine structure and is efficient only in the presence of tertiary aliphatic amines.
    • This enzyme system catalyses the oxidative deamination of primary aromatic amines, long-chain diamines and tertiary cyclic amines.
    • One or more of the hydrogens of the ammonia is replaced with an organic acid group to produce a primary, secondary, or tertiary amide.


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  • 1 (the Tertiary) Geology The Tertiary period or the system of rocks deposited during it.
  • The Tertiary lasted from about 65 to 1.6 million years ago. The mammals diversified following the demise of the dinosaurs and became dominant, as did the flowering plants

  • 2A lay associate of certain Christian monastic organizations: a Franciscan tertiary
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    • Though contemporary treatises recommended that widows and Franciscan tertiaries be discreetly covered, there is evidence that in their demeanor and in their dress younger widows were perceived as presenting a seductive appeal to men.
    • If we take St Francis of Assisi as the likely subject, however, a direct relationship emerges with St Elizabeth of Hungary and her great-niece St Elizabeth of Portugal, both of whom were Franciscan tertiaries.
    • The beguines and tertiaries, and to some extent the newer Cistercian nuns, were drawn from rising social strata - new groups that may have been anxious about their wealth and status.


mid 16th century (in sense 2 of the noun): from Latin tertiarius 'of the third part or rank', from tertius 'third'.

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Pronunciation: grəʊˈtɛskəri
grotesque quality or grotesque things collectively