- (Received Pronunciation) enPR: tûrn, IPA(key): /tɜːn/
Audio (Southern England) (file)
- (General American) enPR: tûrn, IPA(key): /tɝn/
Audio (GA) (file)
- Homophones: turn, tarn
- Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)n
Via an East Anglian dialect, from some Scandinavian (North Germanic) language, related to Danish terne, Norwegian terne, and Swedish tärna, all from Old Norse þerna (“tern; maidservant”), ultimately from Proto-West Germanic *þewernā (“handmaid, young girl”). First attested in the 1670s.
tern (plural terns)
- Any of various seabirds of the subfamily Sternidae (of the family Laridae) that are similar to gulls but are smaller and have a forked tail.
- terne (obsolete, 17th c.)
- arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea)
- black tern (Chlidonias niger)
- bridled tern
- Caspian tern
- commic tern
- common tern (Sterna hirundo)
- crested tern (Thalasseus bergii)
- Forster's tern
- greater crested tern (Thalasseus bergii)
- gull-billed tern
- hooded tern (Sterna minuta)
- lesser crested tern
- little tern
- marsh tern
- river tern
- roseate tern
- rosy tern
- royal tern
- sandwich tern
- Sandwich tern
- sooty tern
- swift tern (Thalasseus bergii)
- whiskered tern
- white-winged tern
- sea swallow (“common tern”) (one sense)
The noun is derived from Late Middle English terne (“throw of a die or dice showing the number three”), from Old French terne (“gathering of three people; trinity”) (modern French terne), from Latin ternās, the accusative feminine plural of ternī (“three each; three at a time”), from ter (“thrice”) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *tréyes (“three”)) + -ī (from -us (suffix forming adjectives)).
tern (plural terns)
- (dated or obsolete) A thing with three components; a set of three things.
tern (not comparable)
- (chiefly botany, rare) Consisting of three components; ternate, threefold, triple.
- ^ “tern, n.1”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2020; “tern1, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
- ^ “terne, n.(2)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
- Compare “tern, adj. and n.2”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2019; “tern2, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
- tern on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- tern (disambiguation) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- Sternidae on Wikimedia Commons.Wikimedia Commons
- Sternidae on Wikispecies.Wikispecies
tern m (plural terns)
- Alternative form of
- (literary) matte, lackluster, dull (lacking gloss)
- (figurative) colorless, pale (lacking color or contrast)