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ellipse

[ih-lips]
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noun Geometry.
  1. a plane curve such that the sums of the distances of each point in its periphery from two fixed points, the foci, are equal. It is a conic section formed by the intersection of a right circular cone by a plane that cuts the axis and the surface of the cone. Typical equation: (x2/a2) + (y2/b2) = 1. If a = b the ellipse is a circle.
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Origin of ellipse

1745–55; < French < Latin ellīpsis ellipsis; or by back formation from the plural ellipses
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for ellipse

ellipse

noun
  1. a closed conic section shaped like a flattened circle and formed by an inclined plane that does not cut the base of the cone. Standard equation x ²/ a ² + y ²/ b ² = 1, where 2 a and 2 b are the lengths of the major and minor axes. Area: π ab
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Word Origin

C18: back formation from ellipsis
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for ellipse

n.

1753, from French ellipse (17c.), from Latin ellipsis "ellipse," also, "a falling short, deficit," from Greek elleipsis (see ellipsis). So called because the conic section of the cutting plane makes a smaller angle with the base than does the side of the cone, hence, a "falling short." First applied by Apollonius of Perga (3c. B.C.E.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

ellipse in Science

ellipse

[ĭ-lĭps]
  1. A closed, symmetric curve shaped like an oval, which can be formed by intersecting a cone with a plane that is not parallel or perpendicular to the cone's base. The sum of the distances of any point on an ellipse from two fixed points (called the foci) remains constant no matter where the point is on the curve.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

ellipse in Culture

ellipse

[(i-lips)]

In geometry, a curve traced out by a point that is required to move so that the sum of its distances from two fixed points (called foci) remains constant. If the foci are identical with each other, the ellipse is a circle; if the two foci are distinct from each other, the ellipse looks like a squashed or elongated circle.

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Note

The orbits of the planets and of many comets are ellipses.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.