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From Late Latin ternārius (consisting of three things), from ternī (three each).



ternary (not comparable)

  1. Made up of three things.
    Synonyms: treble, triadic, triple, triplex, tern, trinary, trine; see also Thesaurus:triple
  2. Arranged in groups of three.
  3. (arithmetic) To the base three.
    Synonym: trinary
  4. (arithmetic) Having three variables.
  5. (chemistry) 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.
    Sodic hydroxide, NaOH, is a ternary compound.
  6. (programming) Of an operator taking three operands.
    An "if…then…else" construction is called a ternary operator when it is combined in one line of a program.

Derived terms[edit]


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See also[edit]


ternary (plural ternaries)

  1. A group of three things; a trio, threesome or tierce.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:trio
  2. (obsolete) The Holy Trinity.
    • 1570, John Dee, in H. Billingsley (trans.) Euclid, Elements of Geometry, Preface:
      And albeit these thynges be waighty and truthes of great importance, yet (by the infinite goodnes of the Almighty Ternarie,) Artificiall Methods and easy wayes are made, by which the zelous Philosopher, may wyn nere this Riuerish Ida, this Mountayne of Contemplation [] .