n. pl. ter·ri·to·ries
a. An area of land; a region.
b. The land and waters under the jurisdiction of a government.
c. A political subdivision of a country.
d. A geographic region, such as a colonial possession, that is dependent on an external government: the territories of the Holy Roman Empire.
2. often Territory
a. A subdivision of the United States that is not a state and is administered by an appointed or elected governor and elected legislature.
b. A similarly organized political subdivision of Canada or Australia.
3. An area for which a person is responsible as a representative or agent: a salesperson's territory.
4. Sports The area of a field defended by a specified team: punted the ball deep into the opponent's territory.
5. Biology An area occupied by a single animal, mating pair, or group and often vigorously defended against intruders, especially those of the same species.
6. A sphere of action or interest; a province. See Synonyms at field.
[Middle English territorie, from Latin territōrium, from terra, earth; see ters- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.