• IPA: /ˈpɪəɹɪəd/

period (plural periods)

  1. A length of time. [from 17th c.]
    There was a period of confusion following the announcement.
    You'll be on probation for a six-month period.
  2. A period of time in history seen as a single coherent entity; an epoch, era. [from 16th c.]
    Food rationing continued in the post-war period.
  3. (now, chiefly, North America) The punctuation mark “.” (indicating the ending of a sentence or marking an abbreviation).
  4. The length of time during which the same characteristics of a periodic phenomenon recur, such as the repetition of a wave or the rotation of a planet. [from 17th c.]
  5. Female menstruation. [from 18th c.]
    When she is on her period, she prefers not to go swimming.
  6. A section of an artist's, writer's (etc.) career distinguished by a given quality, preoccupation etc. [from 19th c.]
    This is one of the last paintings Picasso created during his Blue Period.
  7. Each of the divisions into which a school day is split, allocated to a given subject or activity. [from 19th c.]
    I have math class in second period.
  8. (chiefly, North America) Each of the intervals into which various sporting events are divided. [from 19th c.]
    Gretzky scored in the last minute of the second period.
  9. (obsolete, medicine) The length of time for a disease to run its course. [15th-19th c.]
  10. An end or conclusion; the final point of a process etc. [from 16th c.]
    • c. 1597, William Shakespeare, “The Merry VViues of VVindsor”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act III, scene iii], page 58 ↗, column 1:
      Why now let me die, for I haue liu'd long enough : This is the period of my ambition : O this bleſſed houre.
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 3, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes, […], book II, printed at London: By Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount […], OCLC 946730821 ↗, page 203 ↗:
      All comes to one period, whether man make an end of himſelfe, or whether he endure-it […].
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book X”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗, lines 1537–1539:
      So ſpake th’ Archangel Michael, then paus’d, / As at the Worlds great period ; and our Sire / Replete with joy and wonder thus repli’d.
  11. (rhetoric) A complete sentence, especially one expressing a single thought or making a balanced, rhythmic whole. [from 16th c.]
    • 1641, Ben Jonson, Timber
      Periods are beautiful when they are not too long.
    • 1644, John Milton, Aeropagitica:
      that such iron moulds as these shall have autority to knaw out the choicest periods of exquisitest books, and to commit such a treacherous fraud against the orphan remainders of worthiest men after death, the more sorrow will belong to that haples race of men, whose misfortune it is to have understanding.
    • 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Penguin 2004, p. 118:
      In declamatory periods Dr Fordyce spins out Rousseau's eloquence […].
    • 1853, Charles Dickens, Bleak House, ch 1:
      A very superior gentleman, Mr. Kenge. Truly eloquent indeed. Some of his periods quite majestic!
  12. (obsolete) A specific moment during a given process; a point, a stage. [17th-19th c.]
    • 1720, Alexander Pope, translating Homer, Iliad, Book IV (note 125):
      The Death of Patroclus was the most eminent Period; and consequently the most proper Time for such Games.
  13. (chemistry) A row in the periodic table of the elements. [from 19th c.]
  14. (geology) A subdivision of an era, typically lasting from tens to hundreds of millions of years, see Appendix: Geologic timescale.
  15. (genetics) A Drosophila gene, the gene product of which is involved in regulation of the circadian rhythm.
  16. (music) Two phrases (an antecedent and a consequent phrase).
  17. (math) The length of an interval over which a periodic function, periodic sequence or repeating decimal repeats; often the least such length.
  18. (archaic) End point, conclusion.
    • 1590, Robert Greene (dramatist), Greenes Mourning Garment, London: Thomas Newman, “The Shepheards Tale,” p. 17,
      As thus all gazed on hir, so she glaunced hir lookes on all, surueying them as curiously, as they noted hir exactly, but at last she set downe her period on the face of Alexis […]
    • c. 1590, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act III, Scene 1,
      And if my death might make this island happy,
      And prove the period of their tyranny,
      I would expend it with all willingness:
    • 1629, Sir John Beaumont, 1st Baronet, “A Description of Love” in Bosworth-field with a Taste of the Variety of Other Poems, London: Henry Seile, p. 100,
      When Loue thus in his Center ends,
      Desire and Hope, his inward friends
      Are shaken off: while Doubt and Griefe,
      The weakest giuers of reliefe,
      Stand in his councell as the chiefe:
      And now he to his period brought,
      From Loue becomes some other thought.
    • 1651, William Cartwright (dramatist), The Ordinary, London: Humphrey Moseley, Act III, Scene 5, p. 51,
      Set up an hour-glasse; hee’l go on untill
      The last sand make his Period.
Synonyms Antonyms
  • (length of time of recurrence of a periodic phenomenon) frequency
Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Adjective

period (not comparable)

  1. Designating anything from a given historical era.
    a period car
    a period TV commercial
  2. Evoking, or appropriate for, a particular historical period, especially through the use of elaborate costumes and scenery.
    • 2004, Mark Singer, Somewhere in America, Houghton Mifflin, page 70:
      As the guests arrived — there were about a hundred, a majority in period attire — I began to feel out of place in my beige summer suit, white shirt, and red necktie. Then I got over it. I certainly didn't suffer from Confederate-uniform envy.
  1. (chiefly, North America) That's final; that's the end of the matter (analogous to a period ending a sentence); end of story
    I know you don't want to go to the dentist but your teeth need to be checked, period!
Synonyms Translations
  • French: point !, point final !, point barre !, un point c'est tout !
  • German: Punkt
  • Portuguese: ponto final, ponto
  • Russian: и то́чка
  • Spanish: y punto

period (periods, present participle perioding; past and past participle perioded)

  1. (obsolete, intransitive) To come to a period; to conclude.
    • For you may period upon this, that where there is the most pity for others, there is the greatest misery in the party pitied.
  2. (obsolete, transitive, rare) To put an end to.

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