Definition of ternary in English:


Pronunciation /ˈtərnərē/ /ˈtərnəri/


  • 1Composed of three parts.

    ‘Although the model ternary compositions we study are too simple to completely represent a biological membrane, we often find irascibility transitions close to physiological temperatures.’
    • ‘These ternary plots suggest that the three suspect samples (plotted red, yellow and green) are in fact from the same source, and unique, when compared with many samples from other sources (plotted blue)’
    • ‘However, phase diagrams of binary or ternary mixtures are much simpler and often provide information that permits their use as simple models for understanding the behavior of much more complex mixtures.’
    • ‘There is no way to remove arbitrary elements from either a binary or a ternary sequence with a guarantee that two identical digits won't be brought together.’
    • ‘The digits of ternary numerals can also help illuminate a peculiar mathematical object called the Cantor set, or Cantor's dust.’
    1. 1.1Mathematics Using three as a base.
      ‘In 1950, Claude E. Shannon published an account of symmetrical signed-digit systems, including ternary and other bases.’
      • ‘Here I want to offer three cheers for base 3, the ternary system.’
      • ‘Along with ternary arithmetic, a computer built of base - 3 hardware can also exploit ternary logic.’
      • ‘According to the invention, each address is expressed as a multiplace number in a ternary (base 3) system instead of the usual binary (base 2) numbering system.’
      • ‘Another hint: Many balance problems (including the ones we have looked at here) involve ternary (base 3) arithmetic, either implicitly or explicitly, because there are three possible outcomes to each weighing.’


Late Middle English from Latin ternarius, from terni ‘three at once’.