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[ter-i-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈtɛr ɪˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/
noun, plural territories.
any tract of land; region or district.
the land and waters belonging to or under the jurisdiction of a state, sovereign, etc.
any separate tract of land belonging to a state.
(often initial capital letter) Government.
  1. a region or district of the U.S. not admitted to the Union as a state but having its own legislature, with a governor and other officers appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
  2. some similar district elsewhere, as in Canada and Australia.
a field or sphere of action, thought, etc.; domain or province of something.
the region or district assigned to a representative, agent, or the like, as for making sales.
the area that an animal defends against intruders, especially of the same species.
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin territōrium land round a town, district, equivalent to terr(a) land + -i- -i- + -tōrium -tory2
Related forms
subterritory, noun, plural subterritories.
2. domain, dominion, sovereignty. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for territories
  • Males abandon social groups when food is scarce and return to territories where they were reared by their mothers.
  • She put microphones in their territories and waited.
  • And they were also better able to hold on to disputed territories and gain new territory of better quality.
  • The territories have been given new names, or divided into smaller units or incorporated into larger ones.
  • One would expect relatives to share the same territory or to inhabit territories close together.
  • Not a few were expelled from their traditional territories to make room for highways, dams and cattle ranches.
  • They know stops by name, and integrate a number of specific stations into their territories.
  • Our ancestors evolved and had to succeed in small groups that moved around relatively small territories.
  • Tigers live alone and aggressively scent-mark large territories to keep their rivals away.
  • Woodpeckers also drum to attract mates and to announce the boundaries of their territories.
British Dictionary definitions for territories


/ˈtɛrɪtərɪ; -trɪ/
noun (pl) -ries
any tract of land; district
the geographical domain under the jurisdiction of a political unit, esp of a sovereign state
the district for which an agent, etc, is responsible: a salesman's territory
an area inhabited and defended by an individual animal or a breeding group of animals
an area of knowledge: science isn't my territory
(in football, hockey, etc) the area defended by a team
(often capital) a region of a country, esp of a federal state, that enjoys less autonomy and a lower status than most constituent parts of the state
(often capital) a protectorate or other dependency of a country
Word Origin
C15: from Latin territōrium land surrounding a town, from terra land


/ˈtɛrɪtərɪ; -trɪ/
(Austral) the Territory, See Northern Territory
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for territories



early 15c., "land under the jurisdiction of a town, state, etc.," probably from Latin territorium "land around a town, domain, district," from terra "earth, land" (see terrain) + -orium, suffix denoting place (see -ory).

An alternative theory, somewhat supported by the vowels of the original Latin word, suggests derivation from terrere "to frighten" (see terrible); thus territorium would mean "a place from which people are warned off." Sense of "any tract of land, district, region" is first attested c.1600. Specific U.S. sense of "organized self-governing region not yet a state" is from 1799.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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territories in Science
A geographic area occupied by a single animal, mating pair, or group. Animals usually defend their territory vigorously against intruders, especially of the same species, but the defense often takes the form of prominent, threatening displays rather than out-and-out fighting. Different animals mark off territory in different ways, as by leaving traces of their scent along the boundaries or, in the case of birds, modifying their calls to keep out intruders.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for territories


  1. (also turps) Turpentine (1823+)
  2. Elixir of terpin hydrate with codeine, a cough syrup prized as a narcotic (1970s+ Narcotics)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with territories
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for territories


in ecology, any area defended by an organism or a group of similar organisms for such purposes as mating, nesting, roosting, or feeding. Most vertebrates and some invertebrates, such as arthropods, including insects, exhibit territorial behaviour. Possession of a territory involves aggressive behaviour and thus contrasts with the home range, which is the area in which the animal normally lives. Home range is not associated with aggressive behaviour, although parts of the home range may be defended: in this case the defended part is the territory. The type of territory varies with the social behaviour and environmental and resource requirements of the particular species and often serves more than one function, but whatever the type, the territory acts as a spacing mechanism and a means of allocating resources among a segment of the population and denying it to others. Some authorities also consider plants or animals that secrete repulsive chemicals into their immediate environments to be territorial, because the substances space individuals of the species apart from one another.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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