Definition of terminal in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtəːmɪn(ə)l/


1 [attributive] Forming or situated at the end or extremity of something: a terminal date the terminal tip of the probe
More example sentences
  • Pending a detailed examination of the needs of the telecom sector, I propose to extend the terminal date to March 31, 2005.
  • Those statutes set terminal dates for servants arriving without written indentures; in any event they seem to have applied only to English servants.
  • The terminal date of 1914 offers a retrospective view of developments during the previous half-century.
end, extreme
final, last, concluding, closing, ultimate, finishing, terminating
1.1Of or forming a transport terminal: the terminal building
More example sentences
  • The passengers were kept on the aircraft until 1200, at which point they were transported to the airfield's old terminal building.
  • An airport security official, who did not want to be identified, said the bomb rocked the front of the terminal building, smashing windows and causing considerable damage.
  • Upon arriving at the terminal building, I was astonished to see only one harried police officer whose job it was to ensure that cars weren't left unattended curbside.
1.2 Zoology Situated at, forming, or denoting the end of a part or series of parts furthest from the centre of the body: the terminal segments of the antennae
More example sentences
  • In many ammonites the terminal body chamber is relatively large, inflated, and with a constricted aperture or apertural appendages.
  • The terminal segment carries a pair of silk-producing spinnerets.
  • Each radial canal ends in a terminal tube foot, which has a sensory function.
1.3 Botany (Of a flower, inflorescence, etc.) borne at the end of a stem or branch: terminal buds Often contrasted with axillary.
More example sentences
  • For plants that develop a terminal flower or inflorescence, the leaf number below the flower can be used to provide additional information about the timing of developmental events.
  • Flower buds are borne on new shoots emerging from the terminal branches at the end of the cool, dry season.
  • To obtain larger cut flowers, remove all but the terminal bud of each stem on the plant when the buds are small.
2(Of a disease) predicted to lead to death, especially slowly; incurable: terminal cancer
More example sentences
  • Because terminal illness and death are deeply personal experiences, the wishes of the dying patient should be considered.
  • The authors of the essays in this book offer great insight into the issues surrounding terminal illness and impending death.
  • To qualify for the study, participants had to have a life expectancy of six months or less and have terminal cancer or heart disease.
incurable, untreatable, inoperable, end-stage;
fatal, mortal, deadly, lethal, killing
2.1 [attributive] Suffering from or relating to a terminal disease: a hospice for terminal cases
More example sentences
  • So we have decided to do the best we can for her medically and offer her the dignity and compassion that we can, even if we know that what we really are offering is terminal care.
  • Dying patients' rights to information about their condition are often, in practice, poorly protected in the context of terminal care.
  • Now that the ‘natural death’ amendments have been passed by the legislature, I hope Taiwan will soon have more hospice wards to take care of terminal patients.
dying, near death;
2.2 [attributive] (Of a condition) forming the last stage of a terminal disease.
Example sentences
  • Yasser Arafat is reported to be very ill; descriptions of his condition vary, but it seems possible that his condition is terminal.
  • Doctors told the family her condition was terminal, although they don't link the standard of care she received with her death.
  • Towards the end, she was in a terminal condition, not in a distant sense, but in the short-term, she was not absorbing the food that she was being given artificially by a PEG tube.
2.3 informal Extreme and usually beyond cure or alteration (used for emphasis): an industry in terminal decline you’re making a terminal ass of yourself
More example sentences
  • There is an element of wanderlust, and a terminal lack of responsibility probably.
  • The trouble with these surveys, aside from their terminal lack of point, is that they insist on making silly comparisons.
  • If terminal disagreements occur, they would be allowed to reconsider their participation in the coalition agreement.
complete, utter, absolute, total, real, thorough, out-and-out, downright, consummate, perfect, veritable
British informal right, proper
Australian/New Zealand informal fair
archaic arrant
3Done or occurring each school, college, university, or law term: terminal examinations
More example sentences
  • From the faculty perspective, the advantage of a terminal leave over a cash payment is that benefits often continue to accrue while a faculty member is on leave.


1The end of a railway or other transport route, or a station at such a point: a freight terminal a ferry terminal
More example sentences
  • The omnipresence of television is now reflected even in bus terminals, railway stations and, why even hospitals, he points out.
  • Detectives believe they will try to flee the UK and all ports, airports, ferry terminals and railway stations were alerted to the possibility as soon as officers had details of their identities over a week ago.
  • Interchanges between urban transport modes, terminals and stations are the locations where most barriers exist.
1.1A departure and arrival building for air passengers at an airport.
Example sentences
  • The Kansas City airport terminals were evacuated and passengers took shelter in tunnels, but there were no deaths reported in the metropolitan area of over one million people.
  • The Government is set to give the go-ahead to the building of a second terminal at Dublin Airport before the summer.
  • Passengers at airports and terminals across the country waited for hours for flights that did not materialise.
station, last stop, end of the line;
British  terminus
1.2An installation where oil or gas is stored at the end of a pipeline or at a port.
Example sentences
  • What this assumption fails to take into account, however, is that the investment required to build the tankers and terminals to store this gas is very large.
  • However, because of problems with the oil for food program, tankers were not able to lift the oil from the terminal at the Turkish port.
  • The cost of constructing the pipelines and oil terminals in the south was earlier estimated at US $719 million.
2A point of connection for closing an electric circuit: battery terminals
More example sentences
  • The zinc and the copper are the anode and cathode terminals of your potato battery.
  • A circuit arrangement for supplying a discharge lamp with a direct current includes input terminals for connection to a supply voltage source.
  • An electrical connection between a high voltage terminal and a spark plug head.
3A device at which a user enters data or commands for a computer system and which displays the received output.
Example sentences
  • Each morning intelligence analysts log on at their computer terminals and enter the Dictionary system.
  • Early terminals provided just a user interface, leaving the processing to powerful mainframes.
  • Pollsters sit in front of a computer terminal and enter the responses they're given.
workstation, VDU, visual display unit, PC, input/output device;
monitor, console, keyboard
4 (also terminal figure) another term for terminus (sense 3).
Example sentences
  • Renditions of the heron are common in Celtic art, ranging from simple terminal figures to complex intertwined knotwork.
  • The white statuary blockings carved with rosettes above terminal figures headed by a boy's head, each turned slightly differently and headed with ionic capitals which support the blockings.
  • A terminal figure at the other end of Queen Mary Street would impress the view by giving something towards which to head.
5British A patient suffering from a terminal illness.


Early 19th century: from Latin terminalis, from terminus 'end, boundary'.

Words that rhyme with terminal


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ter|min¦al

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