What are terms? Definition and examples

In math, terms are components of an expression. However, we can use the word to define the components of a common fraction, ratio, proportion, or sequence as well.

Terms of an expression

The terms of an expression are the components of the expression separated by operation signs (+ or -).  The term of an expression can also be defined as a number, or the product of a number and variables.


The terms of the expression 8x - 5 are 8x and 5.

The terms of the expression 6x + 4 are 6x and 4

Terms of a common fraction

The terms of a common fraction are its numerator and denominator


In the fraction 6/9, 6 and 9 are terms of the common fraction.

Terms of a ratio

The terms of a ratio usually refer to the numerator and denominator. The numerator is called the first term and the denominator is called the second term.


2/3 or 2:3 is a ratio. The first term is 2 and the second term is 3

Terms of a proportion

A proportion has 4 terms and we write it as a/b = c/d or a:b = c:d

The terms are a,b,c, and d. The first term is a, the second term is b, the third term is c and the fourth term is d.


In the proportion 5/6 = 15/18 or 5:6 = 15:18, the first term is 5, the second term is 6, the third term is 15, and the fourth term is 18.

Terms of a sequence

The terms of a sequence are the numbers in that sequence or pattern.


All the numbers below are the terms of the following sequence.

3, 6, 12, 24, 48, ...

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