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tern 1

Any of various seabirds primarily of the genus Sterna found worldwide, typically smaller than a gull and having a forked tail.

[Of Scandinavian origin.]

tern 2

1. Games A set of three, especially a combination of three numbers that wins a lottery.
2. A three-masted schooner.

[Middle English terne, from Old French, from ternes, from Latin ternās, accusative pl. of ternī, three each, from ter, thrice; see trei- in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Animals) 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]


1. (Nautical Terms) 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 and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014



any of various web-footed aquatic birds of the subfamily Sterninae (family Laridae), resembling gulls, though typically smaller and slimmer.
[1670–80; < Dan terne or Norwegian terna, c. Old Norse therna]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


 set of three; trio; triplet; a group of three stanzas in poetry, 1856.
Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.tern - small slender gull having narrow wings and a forked tailtern - small slender gull having narrow wings and a forked tail
larid - long-winged web-footed aquatic bird of the gull family
sea swallow, Sterna hirundo - common tern of Eurasia and America having white black and grey plumage
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


[tɜːn] Ngolondrina f de mar
common terncharrán m común
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


n (Zool) → Seeschwalbe f
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007
References in periodicals archive ?
Gelochelidon nilotica Gmelin, 1789 (Sternidae), commonly known as Gull-Billed Tern, formerly Sterna nilotica (Bridge et al., 2005), is a migrating bird that inhabits the Northern Hemisphere, also migrating to the Southern Hemisphere during the winter (Hoyo et al., 1996).
Waterbirds included 27 shorebird species from five families, twelve herons (Ardeidae), six rails and crakes (Rallidae), four terns (Sternidae), three ducks (Anatidae) and two storks (Ciconiidae).
The nests of Little and Fairy Terns are typical of those constructed by the Sternidae family, a shallow scrape in the sand, and are often lined with small shells, shell fragments and small pieces of vegetation when available (Reside 2003).