[ter-i-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee]
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.
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.
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.

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin territōrium land round a town, district, equivalent to terr(a) land + -i- -i- + -tōrium -tory2

subterritory, noun, plural subterritories.

2. domain, dominion, sovereignty.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
territory (ˈtɛrɪtərɪ, -trɪ)
n , pl -ries
1.  any tract of land; district
2.  the geographical domain under the jurisdiction of a political unit, esp of a sovereign state
3.  the district for which an agent, etc, is responsible: a salesman's territory
4.  an area inhabited and defended by an individual animal or a breeding group of animals
5.  an area of knowledge: science isn't my territory
6.  (in football, hockey, etc) the area defended by a team
7.  (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
8.  (often capital) a protectorate or other dependency of a country
[C15: from Latin territōrium land surrounding a town, from terra land]

Territory (ˈtɛrɪtərɪ, -trɪ)
(Austral) the Territory See Northern Territory

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

early 15c., "land under the jurisdiction of a town, state, etc.," probably from L. territorium "land around a town, domain, district," from terra "earth, land" (see terrain) + -orium, suffix denoting place. An alternative theory, somewhat supported by the vowels of the
original L. 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. Territorial waters is attested from 1841; territorial imperative "animal need to claim and defend territory" is recorded from 1966.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
territory   (těr'ĭ-tôr'ē)  Pronunciation Key 
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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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see come with the territory; cover the field (territory).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


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.

Learn more about territory with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Still, his axiom covers a lot of territory on the human condition, including
  our somewhat smelly natures.
But what puts this hotel firmly in awards territory is its food.
Tragedy comes with the territory when you're a campus chaplain.
The allure of territory can be baffling and perhaps should be diagnosed as a
  form of madness.
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