There are 2 main definitions of tern in English:

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tern1

Syllabification: tern
Pronunciation: /tərn
 
/

noun

A seabird related to the gulls, typically smaller and more slender, with long pointed wings and a forked tail.
  • Family Sternidae (or Laridae): several genera, in particular Sterna, and many species
Example sentences
  • Around the rocky shores sea birds such as gulls, terns, cormorants, gannets and puffins nested in the cliffs and dunes.
  • In this lagoon, brown pelicans, double-crested cormorants, great and snowy egrets, and numerous terns and gulls forage for fish and other items of food all day long.
  • While there are few wild animals in Iceland, there is abundant birdlife - ducks, geese and, among the many sea-birds I spotted, petrels, puffins, tern, gannets, skuas and shearwaters.

Origin

late 17th century: of Scandinavian origin; related to Danish terne and Swedish tärna, both from Old Norse therna.

Words that rhyme with tern

adjourn, astern, Berne, burn, churn, concern, discern, earn, fern, fohn, kern, learn, Lucerne, quern, Sauternes, spurn, stern, Sterne, terne, Traherne, turn, urn, Verne, yearn

Definition of tern in:

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There are 2 main definitions of tern in English:

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tern2

Syllabification: tern
Pronunciation: /
 
tərn/

noun

rare
A set of three, especially three lottery numbers that when drawn together win a large prize.
Example sentences
  • There were additional prizes for winning sequences of numbers, three in a row being a tern and four a quatern.
  • Three lemons in a row on a fruit machine could be called a 'tern'.
  • The terno seco, or "straight" tern, differs from the plain tern in being governed by some special conditions that heighten still more the risk, such as the requirement that the player must stake all on his ‘terno’, without the right, should he miss part of his three numbers, to claim the benefit of the resulting ‘ambo’ or ‘extracto’.

Origin

late Middle English: apparently from French terne, from Latin terni 'three at once, three each', from ter 'thrice'.

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