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(1) A word or word group that provides a precise definition of a concept and of its relations to other concepts within a particular subject field. Within that field, terms serve as specifying limiting definitions of their objects and phenomena and of their attributes and relationships.
Terms are significant only within a particular terminology. Unlike the meaning of words in the common language, the meaning of terms is not related to context. Within a particular system of concepts, a term is ideally monosemous, systematic, and stylistically neutral; examples are “phoneme,” “sinus,” and “surplus value.” Terms and nonterms, or words of colloquial speech, may shade into one another.
Terms are subject to the word-forming, grammatical, and phonetic rules of a given language. Terms are established either by assigning a specialized meaning to words of colloquial speech, or by means of borrowing and caiques of foreign terms. Modern linguistic scholarship tends toward the use of internationalisms in terminology and toward the semantic standardization of terminological systems within a particular discipline in different languages, that is, toward a monosemous correspondence among terms in different languages.
(2) In logic, an element of formalized language corresponding to the subject or object in the usual grammatical sense; also, the subject of a proposition in traditional logic. In the most widely accepted view, a term is an element of the premise of the propositions (statements) that form part of a categorical syllogism. Terms may be major, middle, or minor. A major term serves as the predicate (logical predicate) of a proposition that is the conclusion of a given syllogism. A minor term is the subject (logical subject) of the conclusion. A middle term does not form part of a syllogism’s conclusion, but it does form part of the proposition that serves as the syllogism’s premise.
terminal figure, terminal statue
Latest version: 1.15.