Definitions

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

  • adjective Composed of three or arranged in threes.
  • adjective Having the base three.
  • adjective Involving three variables.
  • noun A group of three.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Proceeding by threes; consisting of three: as, a ternary flower (that is, one having three members in each cycle); a ternary chemical substance (that is, one composed of three elements).
  • noun The number three; a group of three.
  • In mathematics, having three variables.
  • In old chemistry, applied by Dalton to substances consisting of three atoms — either A + 2 B or 2 A + B.
  • noun A trinity.

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

  • noun A ternion; the number three; three things taken together; a triad.
  • adjective Proceeding by threes; consisting of three.
  • adjective (Chem.) Containing, or consisting of, three different parts, as elements, atoms, groups, or radicals, which are regarded as having different functions or relations in the molecule.

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

  • adjective Made up of three things; treble, triadic, triple, triplex
  • adjective Arranged in groups of three
  • adjective mathematics To the base three
  • adjective mathematics Having three variables
  • noun A group of three things; a trio, threesome or tierce

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

  • adjective having three units or components or elements
  • noun the cardinal number that is the sum of one and one and one

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Latin ternārius, from ternī, three each; see tern.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Late Latin ternarius ("consisting of a single thing"), from tertius ("third").

Examples

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