Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various seabirds primarily of the genus Sterna found worldwide, typically smaller than a gull and having a forked tail.
  • noun Games A set of three, especially a combination of three numbers that wins a lottery.
  • noun A three-masted schooner.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Same as ternate.
  • noun That which consists of three things or numbers together; specifically, a prize in a lottery gained by drawing three favorable numbers, or the three numbers so drawn.
  • noun In mathematics, a system of three pairs of conjugate trihedra which together contain the twenty-seven straight lines lying in a cubic surface.
  • noun A bird of the family Laridæ and subfamily Sterninæ; a stern or seaswallow.
  • noun A black tern; any member of the genus Hydrochelidon. See cut under Hydrochelidon.
  • noun A threemasted schooner; a three-master.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Threefold; triple; consisting of three; ternate.
  • adjective (Bot.) flowers growing three and three together.
  • adjective (Bot.) leaves arranged in threes, or three by three, or having three in each whorl or set.
  • adjective (Bot.) three peduncles growing together from the same axis.
  • adjective (Naut.) a three-masted schooner.
  • noun (Zoöl.) Any one of numerous species of long-winged aquatic birds, allied to the gulls, and belonging to Sterna and various allied genera.
  • noun See Fairy bird, under Fairy.
  • noun any tern of the genus Hydrochelidon. They frequent marshes and rivers and feed largely upon insects.
  • noun any tern belonging to Seëna or allied genera which frequent rivers.
  • noun any tern of the genus Thalasseus. Terns of this genus have very long, pointed wings, and chiefly frequent seas and the mouths of large rivers.
  • noun That which consists of, or pertains to, three things or numbers together; especially, a prize in a lottery resulting from the favorable combination of three numbers in the drawing; also, the three numbers themselves.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun That which consists of, or pertains to, three things or numbers together.
  • noun dated A lottery prize resulting from the favourable combination of three numbers in the draw.
  • noun Any of various sea birds of the family Sternidae that are similar to gulls but are smaller, more elegant and have a forked tail.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun small slender gull having narrow wings and a forked tail

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Of Scandinavian origin.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English terne, from Old French, from ternes, from Latin ternās, accusative pl. of ternī, three each, from ter, thrice; see trei- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

French terne. See tern (adjective).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From a Scandinavian language, related to Danish terne, Swedish tärna, ultimately from Old Norse þerna This definition is lacking an etymology or has an incomplete etymology. You can help Wiktionary by giving it a proper etymology.

Examples

  • Then you will start radiating the same vibes and moral energy to others, who in tern will hopefully learn to act the same.

    Does Obama hate open source?

  • The tern is a beautiful little bird about twice as big as a swallow, and somewhat resembling it in its flight, but much more graceful.

    A First Year in Canterbury Settlement

  • The tern is a very pretty bird with light grey plumage, a black head and red beak and feet.

    The Home of the Blizzard Being the Story of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914

  • Sports Xtra debuted on Jan. 11 on WNSR SportsRadio 560-AM, it was only a little surprising that the show's team of twentysomething hosts, Jeff Thurn (pronounced "tern") and Henry Nichols, would lay a slightly alternative rap on Nashville listeners.

    NashvilleScene.com

  • It would also cut through the heart of prime wildlife habitat, including homes for at least 20 imperiled species, including the whooping crane, pallid sturgeon, woodland caribou, American burying beetle, interior least tern and western prairie fringed orchid.

    Noah Greenwald: Keystone XL in the 'National Interest'? No Way.

  • Endangered species such as the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle, Brown pelican, Least tern, and Piping plover are breeding, nesting and feeding along this vulnerable coast.

    Leda Huta: Oil Kills Poets Spill

  • A sooty tern: dozens were spotted in New Jersey – far north of their tropical home – after Hurricane Floyd in September 1999.

    Weatherwatch: Birds of the hurricane

  • Endangered species such as the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle, Brown pelican, Least tern, and Piping plover are breeding, nesting and feeding along this vulnerable coast.

    Leda Huta: Oil Kills Poets Spill

  • Wayne Stancill, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife hydraulic engineer, wants to document the rate at which the river creates new shallow-water habitat for endangered fish such as pallid sturgeon, and bare sandbars where endangered bird species such as the piping plover and least tern can nest.

    Flood opens doors to research; Lack of funds may close them

  • On the beach, a tern skittered toward a receding wave, dipped its beak in the sand, retreated to high ground as the next wave approached.

    Miracles, Inc.

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