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

  • adj. Third in place, order, degree, or rank.
  • adj. Of, relating to, or designating the short flight feathers nearest the body on the rear edge of a bird's wing.
  • adj. Chemistry Of or relating to salts of acids containing three replaceable hydrogen atoms.
  • adj. Chemistry Of or relating to organic compounds in which a group, such as an alcohol or amine, is bound to three nonelementary radicals.
  • adj. Of or belonging to the geologic time, system of rocks, or sedimentary deposits of the first period of the Cenozoic Era, characterized by the appearance of modern flora and of apes and other large mammals. See Table at geologic time.
  • n. A tertiary feather.
  • n. The Tertiary Period or its system of deposits.
  • n. Roman Catholic Church A member of a religious Third Order.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of third rank or order; subsequent.
  • n. A tertiary feather.
  • n. A member of a Roman Catholic third order - the Franciscans, Dominicans and Carmelites among others.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Being of the third formation, order, or rank; third.
  • adj. Possessing some quality in the third degree; having been subjected to the substitution of three atoms or radicals. Cf. Primary, and Secondary.
  • adj. Later than, or subsequent to, the Secondary.
  • adj. Growing on the innermost joint of a bird's wing; tertial; -- said of quills.
  • n. A member of the Third Order in any monastic system. See Third Order, under third.
  • n. The Tertiary era, period, or formation.
  • n. One of the quill feathers which are borne upon the basal joint of the wing of a bird. See Illust. of Bird.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of the third order, rank, or formation; third.
  • In geology, of, pertaining to, or occurring in the Tertiary. See II. .
  • In ornithology, same as tertial: distinguished from secondary and from primary. See cuts under bird and covert, n., 6.
  • Belonging or pertaining To the Tertiaries. See II. .
  • n. One who or that which is tertiary, or third in order or succession.
  • n. A color, as russet, citrine, or olive, produced by the mixture of two secondary colors. Tertiaries are grays, and are either red-gray, blue-gray, or yellow-gray when these primaries are in excess, or violet-gray, orange-gray, or green-gray when these secondaries are in excess.
  • n. Same as tertial.

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

  • n. from 63 million to 2 million years ago
  • adj. coming next after the second and just before the fourth in position


Latin tertiārius, from tertius, third.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Latin tertiārius ("of the third part or rank"), from tertius ("third") + -ārius (whence the English suffix -ary); compare the French tertiaire. (Wiktionary)


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  • "That's what they call tertiary recovery," Clark said.

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  • Academic Capacity - measured by the graduates 'performance in tertiary education.


  • It seems like adding figure-tertiary is just making up semantics to satisfy presentational concerns.

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  • We, hope for less intervention from government in tertiary education, less oppression on Chinese schools in Malaysia … … …. [

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  • It would be better for government to focus on its core competency safety regulation and let the other fall by the wayside, but at least separating the primary from the tertiary is a good first step.

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