Borrowed from Latin tertiāt-, the perfect passive participial stem of Latin tertiō, from tertius (third).



tertiate (third-person singular simple present tertiates, present participle tertiating, simple past and past participle tertiated)

  1. To reduce by one third; especially, kill one third of (a group of people).
    • 1870, Frederick William Chesson, The Opium Trade Between India and China in Some of Its Present Aspects, page 19:
      We are distinctly told that one cause of the terrible famine that has been — not decimating, but tertiating — the population of Rajpootana, has been the substitution of cotton for grain culture;
    • 1912 May 3rd, F. Madan, “letter to Sir William [Osler]” quoted by Harvey Cushing in The Life of Sir William Osler II (2010), pages 999–1,000
      Seven spills of paper of precisely equal length were given round, and after an interval collected. Had any of them been dimidiated, tertiated or even decimated, the proposed election was void.
    • 1979, Frank Gervasi, The Life and Times of Menahem Begin, page 42
      “The Jews…were not merely decimated, for that means only one in ten of the world’s Jews were killed by the Nazis, but tertiated. One in every three were slaughtered.”
    • 1981, Meron Medzini [ed.], Israel’s Foreign Relations: 1977–1979, page 85
      The Jewish People were not decimated…. Our people lost every third of its sons or its daughters…it was tertiated.
  2. (obsolete) To increase by half as much again; especially to increase the price in this way.
    • 1757, The history of the R. Society of London, page 242:
      The beam made for triplicating or tertiating any weight small enough to be weighed by it.
    • 1786, Walker's Hibernian Magazine, page 703:
      such a fancy never produces any other effect, but that of tertiating or doubling the price of things.
    • 1786, Charles de Marquis Casaux, Thoughts on the Mechanism of Societies, page 273:
      the chief and true point, is, that all secret intrigues, all public combinations, ended only in occasioning a reform in what was deemed abusive, in a regulation the advantages of which were fully demonstrated; and that the price of wheat, after having tertiated, doubled, trebled perhaps by the help of the forestallers, from whose abilities were expected the repeal of the law and the fall of its devisers, was fixed at last between one half and three fourths above the price, as it was upon the medium of ten years preceding the regulation.
  3. (rare, obsolete) To do or perform three times or for the third time.
    • 1672, Sir Henry Wotton, ‎Izaak Walton, Reliquiæ Wottonianæ, page 559:
      When you consult vvith me about the Personage that should first, or second, or tertiate your business with the King, I must answer as Demosthenes did of Action; My Lord Thresorer, My Lord Thresorer , and so again.
    • 1883, John Croumbie Brown, French Forest Ordinance of 1669, page 134:
      The ordinary sales shall be made by the Grand-Master, or by the Officer of the Maitrise, with the same forms as ought to be observed in regard to determination and survy of sites of fellings, martellage, balliveaux, publication, auction sales, dublication, tertiating, and verification of our woods;
    • 1966, John Maxwell Freeland, The Australian Pub, page 115:
      In front of the doors, a long table, on which chops of mutton, or steaks of beef, just killed, shot out of a frying - pan in company with potent onions and floods of boiling grease , followed each other , morning, noon, and night, on which wayfarers were expected to tertiate each day the tough teeth-task, accomplished through the soft insipidity of squashed pumpkins and sweet potatoes.
    • 1968, Penthouse - Volume 3, Issues 7-12, page 23:
      A young girl of morals pervertiate Invited an old man to tertiate. She tried all she knew And her sister did too, But the darned thing just hung there inertiate.
  4. To divide into three parts, especially to divide into thirds.
    • 1867, S. J. Cassimati, The Greeks and Their Detractors, page 69:
      Had this question ever been scientifically treated, it would have been easy to see that this discord arises from the inappropriate position of the arithmetical termini which man, while in the stage of ante-grammatical inventiveness, fixed at ten (10) from the number of his fingers; that it is not given to us to conceive thé relation between part and parcel , or unit and fraction, but after having halved, or at most tertiated a unit or the fraction arising from such a process; that we, therefore, no more can fancy what the tenth part of a loaf of bread is than count the sands of the desert;
    • 1989, United States. Congress. House. Committee on Energy and Commerce. Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, Health Insurance Coverage and Reform, page 130:
      To the point where now we are - unless people can have the resources and can pay for the resources of what we used to call tertiated medical centers, people are deprived and their expectations certainly are not met.
    • 2010, Bill Flax, The Courage to Do Nothing, page 188:
      Government draws-and-quarters our economy. Although a more accurate description might be tertiating because the one direction the government won't pull us is forward.
    • 2021, Gabriela Goldstein, Art in Psychoanalysis:
      Libido is “tertiated” and the shell fissured, becoming permeable to affects, the other, and reality.
  5. (firearms) To examine, as the thickness of the metal at the muzzle of a gun; or, in general, to examine the thickness of, as ordnance, in order to ascertain its strength.

Coordinate termsEdit


tertiate (plural tertiates)

  1. The third year of training in various Christian religious orders (especially the Jesuits).
    • 1911, Paul Graf von Hoensbroech, Fourteen Years a Jesuit, page 297:
      Every day a whole hour must be devoted to it, in the novitiate even two hours; and every Jesuit is expected to spend at least one week in the year in meditation during his novitiate and in the tertiate a whole month.
    • 1987, Manfred Barthel, The Jesuits: History & Legend of the Society of Jesus, page 53:
      When the scholastic has finished his education, he embarks on the “tertiate," a period of several months in which the accumulated experience of some ten years in the Order will be proved and tested all over again.
    • 2008, Cynthia Hausmann, Priest and Patriot, page 196:
      During the tertiate, as formerly during the novitiate, we have Hospital Trial, only instead of menial work, such as washing feet, cooking, scrubbing the floor, etc., we have spiritual work to do, by helping out the regular chaplain.
  2. One who is in their tertiate training.
    • 1958, Kenneth Scott Latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age - Volume 3, page 136:
      Her first house was in New York City , on Water Street , in the neighbourhood of Jerry McAuley's mission. In 1899 she became a Dominican tertiate.
  3. The third classification of animals in some ranked taxonomic systems, such as that proposed by Linnaeus.
    • 1945, George Gaylord Simpson, ‎Ruth Tyler, The Principles of Classification and a Classification of Mammals, page 172:
      That of De Blainville had " Primates " (primates and doubtful sloths) , "Secundates" (insectivores and carnivores) , "Tertiates" (rodents), and " Quaternates” (ungulates and sirenians), all in a grand division of the "well-toothed" ("bien dentés"), i.e. the edentates.
    • 1967, Hartwig Kuhlenbeck, The Central Nervous System of Vertebrates, page 69:
      The designation Primates goes back to LINNAEUS, who included into this group man, apes, and monkeys (mammals being Secundates, and the other animals Tertiates).
    • 1983, Peter Brian Medawar, ‎J. S. Medawar, Aristotle to Zoos: A Philosophical Dictionary of Biology, page 218:
      All other animals were of the third rank, tertiates. ( We learned of Linnaeus ' distinction between primates, secundates, and tertiates from J. Z. Young's Life of Vertebrates, 2nd ed . [Oxford, 1962].)
    • 2012, Judith Masters, ‎Marco Gamba, ‎Fabien Génin, Leaping Ahead: Advances in Prosimian Biology, page ix:
      A few decades later, in the same spirit, and basing his reasoning on the “degeneration” of the hand, Blainville created the “Secundates,” “Tertiates,” and “Quaternates” for the other mammalian orders.


tertiate (comparative more tertiate, superlative most tertiate)

  1. Having 2:3 proportion.
    • 1933, The Archaeological Journal - Volume 89, page 68:
      The proportions are not tertiate, and there is no north gate.
    • 1934, ‎James Simpson, ‎Richard Saul Ferguson, Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archeological Society, Volume 34, page 56:
      [] but this supposition involves an arrangement based on principles associated with tertiate camps, planned in the proportion of 2:3, and this is to be eschewed.
    • 1939, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, page 111:
      The unusual proportion, so different from the square or tertiate form normally chosen for Roman forts, is entirely due to the difficulty in finding a suitable position.
    • 1996, Peter G. B. McNeill, ‎Hector L. MacQueen, Atlas of Scottish History to 1707, page 40:
      Among the larger sites, those which are of tertiate plan (ie whose long sides are half as big again as their short), are more likely than not to be of second century or later date;
  2. Having three parts.
    • 1964, Elliottia: Notes from the Herbarium of Georgia Southern College, page 8:
      apex generally somewhat acuminate; margin entire, crenate or finely dentate — leaves on lower branches and coppice shoots reputed to be 1-3 lobed; lateral veins 2-4 pairs, tertiate veins forming a prominent reticulum.

Related termsEdit





  1. second-person plural present active imperative of tertiō