1 [turn]
any of numerous aquatic birds of the subfamily Sterninae of the family Laridae, related to the gulls but usually having a more slender body and bill, smaller feet, a long, deeply forked tail, and a more graceful flight, especially those of the genus Sterna, as S. hirundo (common tern) of Eurasia and America, having white, black, and gray plumage.

1670–80; < Danish terne or Norwegian terna; cognate with Old Norse therna

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2 [turn]
a set of three.
three winning numbers drawn together in a lottery.
a prize won by drawing these.

1300–50; Middle English terne < Middle French < Italian terno < Latin ternus, singular of ternī three each, triad, akin to ter thrice; see three

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World English Dictionary
tern1 (tɜːn)
any aquatic bird of the subfamily Sterninae, having a forked tail, long narrow wings, a pointed bill, and a typically black-and-white plumage: family Laridae (gulls, etc), order Charadriiformes
[C18: from Old Norse therna; related to Norwegian terna, Swedish tärna]

tern2 (tɜːn)
1.  a three-masted schooner
2.  rare a group of three
[C14: from Old French terne, from Italian terno, from Latin ternī three each; related to Latin ter thrice, trēs three]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

gull-like shore bird (subfamily Sterninae), 1678, via E.Anglian dialect, from a Scand. source (cf. Dan. terne, Swed. tärna, Færoese terna) related to O.N. þerna "tern," cognate with O.E. stearn "starling."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The former is a species of gannet, and the latter a tern.
Skimmers and thick-billed tern were plentiful here right in the heart of the continent.
These nine-inch long birds are the smallest member of the gull and tern family.
Nesting gulls were removed and tern decoys were scattered across the island.
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