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[ter-er-ist] /ˈtɛr ər ɪst/
a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.
a person who terrorizes or frightens others.
(formerly) a member of a political group in Russia aiming at the demoralization of the government by terror.
an agent or partisan of the revolutionary tribunal during the Reign of Terror in France.
of, relating to, or characteristic of terrorism or terrorists:
terrorist tactics.
Origin of terrorist
1785-95; terror + -ist; compare French terroriste
Related forms
terroristic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for terrorist
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Below a steep bank a few yards from the terrorist headquarters a small shed was erected on the ice.

  • For all answer the terrorist levelled his pistol at his head and fired.

    The Angel of the Revolution George Griffith
  • As soon as the aerostats rose into the air, the terrorist fleet receded northward and southward from the batteries.

    The Angel of the Revolution George Griffith
  • It was there agreed in principle to confirm the decision of the terrorist Narodovoltsi.

    Russia Donald Mackenzie Wallace
  • Surely it must be one of the terrorist fleet, for there were no others in existence.

    The Angel of the Revolution George Griffith
British Dictionary definitions for terrorist


  1. a person who employs terror or terrorism, esp as a political weapon
  2. (as modifier): terrorist tactics
Derived Forms
terroristic, adjective
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 terrorist

in the modern sense, 1944, especially in reference to Jewish tactics against the British in Palestine -- earlier it was used of extremist revolutionaries in Russia (1866); and Jacobins during the French Revolution (1795) -- from French terroriste; see terror + -ist (also cf. terrorism). The tendency of one party's terrorist to be another's guerilla or freedom fighter was noted in reference to the British action in Cyprus (1956) and the war in Rhodesia (1973). The word terrorist has been applied, at least retroactively, to the Maquis resistance in occupied France in World War II (e.g. in the "Spectator," Oct. 20, 1979).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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