What Does Come to Terms Mean?

Come to Terms Meaning

Definition: 1) To reach an agreement; 2) to accept something about oneself.

People use this expression with the first definition when talking about two or more people.

  • The employees came to terms with their new contracts.

They often use this expression with the second definition when talking about a single person accepting some bad news.

  • I had to come to terms with the death of my father.

Origin of Come to Terms

The expression, with the first definition, dates back to the 1700s. The expression with the definition of reconciling oneself with some information developed a little later, in the 1800s.

Examples of Come to Terms

come to terms synonymThis example dialogue involves a husband and wife who just implemented a household budget.

Bobby: I’m impressed with how well this budget is working.

Jennie: Me too. I know we both had doubts about it at first, while we were creating it.

Bobby: Yeah. I thought it would be too hard to cut back on all the things we like to do for fun.

Jennie: And I thought we’d have too many emergencies that would drain away all our extra funds.

Bobby: And we couldn’t agree for the longest time on how much we should spend on each area of the budget.

Jennie: Anyway, I’m just glad we came to terms.

Bobby: Me too. It’s working brilliantly.

come to terms thesaurusOne friend is talking to another about a camping trip that they are taking.

Andrew: Aaron, it looks like I forgot something. We have to go back.

Aaron: We can’t go back. It’s a five-hour drive. We wouldn’t have any time left for camping. What did you forget?

Andrew: I forgot my tent.

Aaron: Are you serious? That’s the most important thing! How could you forget that?

Andrew: Can’t I just share yours?

Aaron: No way, mine is way too small. You’ll just have to come to terms with your mistake and build a shelter to sleep in for the night.

Andrew: Oh, come on. Don’t be like that.

More Examples

This excerpt is from a movie review.

  • While “The Boss Baby’s” corporate adventures are clearly the product of a child’s overactive imagination, the film’s lessons —  about how both Tim and Boss Baby must learn to come to terms with each other —  are very valid. –Denver Post

The second excerpt is from a book review.

  • There is a lot of loss in this book, most notably the loss of one’s life by one’s own hands. How does one come to terms with a strong urge to commit suicide? –Denver Post


The phrase to come to terms with means to make an arrangement or to deal with some personal issue.