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See also: Tertiary


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The chapel of Peterhouse, Cambridge, seen across the Old Court. Founded in 1284, Peterhouse is the oldest of the colleges of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, UK. Universities provide tertiary education (sense 1), after primary and secondary education.
A ball-and-stick model of trimethylamine, which is a tertiary amine (sense 2) as it consists of a nitrogen atom (blue) linked to three methyl groups (black and grey)

From the Latin tertiārius (of the third part or rank), from tertius (third) + -ārius (whence the English suffix -ary); compare the French tertiaire.



tertiary (not comparable)

  1. Of third rank or order; subsequent.
  2. (chemistry) Possessing some quality in the third degree; especially having been subjected to the substitution of three atoms or radicals.
    a tertiary alcohol, amine, or salt
  3. (ornithology) Of quills: growing on the innermost joint of a bird's wing; tertial.

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A diagram of the feathers in a bird’s wing. The tertiaries (sense 1) are numbered 8.
An anonymous 18th- to 19th-century portrait of Jeanne de Toulouse, regarded by some as the founder of the Third Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel or Lay Carmelites (sense 2). She is revered at Saint-Étienne Cathedral in Saint-Étienne, France.

tertiary (plural tertiaries)

  1. (ornithology) A tertiary feather; a tertial.
  2. (Roman Catholicism) A member of a Roman Catholic third order; a layperson who participates in activities similar to those engaged in by men and women who take religious vows (respectively the first and second orders), and who may wear some elements of an order's habit such as a scapular.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

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