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[tur-shee-er-ee, tur-shuh-ree] /ˈtɜr ʃiˌɛr i, ˈtɜr ʃə ri/
of the third order, rank, stage, formation, etc.; third.
  1. noting or containing a carbon atom united to three other carbon atoms.
  2. formed by replacement of three atoms or groups.
(initial capital letter) Geology. noting or pertaining to the period forming the earlier part of the Cenozoic Era, occurring from 65 million to 2 million years ago, characterized by the development and proliferation of mammals.
Ornithology, tertial.
Ecclesiastical. noting or pertaining to a branch, or third order, of certain religious orders that consists of lay members living in community (regular tertiaries) or living in the world (secular tertiaries)
noun, plural tertiaries.
(initial capital letter) Geology. the Tertiary Period or System.
Ornithology. a tertial feather.
(often initial capital letter) Ecclesiastical. a member of a tertiary branch of a religious order.
Origin of tertiary
1540-50; < Latin tertiārius of third part or rank, equivalent to terti(us) third + -ārius -ary
Related forms
post-Tertiary, adjective
pre-Tertiary, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tertiary
  • It does not matter if it is primary, secondary or tertiary recovery.
  • It provided sanctuary for creatures from the tertiary period which died out elsewhere during the ice ages.
  • Makes you wonder whether the solution is ultimately to move away for research paper based perspectives of the tertiary education.
  • What they actually said was that there was a model of tertiary transmission.
  • The number in some form of tertiary education has risen from a fifth to a third over the same period.
  • The measure here would be the extent to which countries or regions create knowledge workers through tertiary education.
  • It's interesting to read that tuition fees have increased far more than the wages for tertiary-educated workers.
  • Symptoms of tertiary syphilis depend on which organs have been affected.
  • This means that the tertiary sector jobs outnumber the secondary and primary sector jobs.
  • In the tertiary marine formation a considerable number of cetaceans has been discovered.
British Dictionary definitions for tertiary


third in degree, order, etc
(of education) taking place after secondary school, such as at university, college, etc
(of an industry) involving services as opposed to extraction or manufacture, such as transport, finance, etc Compare primary (sense 8b), secondary (sense 7)
(RC Church) of or relating to a Third Order
  1. (of an organic compound) having a functional group attached to a carbon atom that is attached to three other groups
  2. (of an amine) having three organic groups attached to a nitrogen atom
  3. (of a salt) derived from a tribasic acid by replacement of all its acidic hydrogen atoms with metal atoms or electropositive groups
(ornithol, rare) Also called tertial. of, relating to, or designating any of the small flight feathers attached to the part of the humerus nearest to the body
noun (pl) -tiaries
(ornithol, rare) Also called tertial. any of the tertiary feathers
(RC Church) a member of a Third Order
Word Origin
C16: from Latin tertiārius containing one third, from tertius third


of, denoting, or formed in the first period of the Cenozoic era, which lasted for 63 million years, during which mammals became dominant
the Tertiary, the Tertiary period or rock system, divided into Palaeocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, and Pliocene epochs or series
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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Word Origin and History for tertiary

1650s, "of the third order, rank, degree, etc.," from Latin tertiarius "of or pertaining to a third," from tertius "third, a third," from root of tres "three" (see three). The geological sense (with capital T-) of "era after the Mesozoic" (which formerly was called the Secondary) is attested from 1794, after Italian terziari, used in this sense 1760 by Italian geologist Giovanni Arduino (1714-1795).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tertiary in Medicine

tertiary ter·ti·ar·y (tûr'shē-ěr'ē)

  1. Third in place, order, degree, or rank.

  2. Of or relating to salts of acids containing three replaceable hydrogen atoms.

  3. Of or relating to organic compounds in which a group is bound to three nonelementary radicals.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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tertiary in Science
Noun  Tertiary. The first period of the Cenozoic Era, from about 65 to 2 million years ago. During this time the continents took on their present form, and the climate changed from being warmer and wetter, in the early part of the period, to being drier and cooler in the later part. Mammals replaced dinosaurs as the dominant form of terrestrial animal life, and many modern types of flowering plants, insects, mollusks, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds appeared. The Tertiary is subdivided into the Paleogene and the Neogene, although these terms are not as widely used as are the names of the epochs that constitute them. See Chart at geologic time.

    1. Relating to or having a carbon atom that is attached to three other carbon atoms in a molecule.

    2. Relating to an organic molecule, such as an alcohol, in which the functional group is attached to a tertiary carbon.

  1. Relating to an advanced level of medical care, usually provided by subspecialists after the delivery of primary medical care. Compare primary, secondary.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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