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catenary

[kat-n-er-ee; especially British kuh-tee-nuh-ree]
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noun, plural cat·e·nar·ies.
  1. Mathematics. the curve assumed approximately by a heavy uniform cord or chain hanging freely from two points not in the same vertical line. Equation: y = kcosh(x/k).
  2. (in electric railroads) the cable, running above the track, from which the trolley wire is suspended.
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adjective
  1. of, relating to, or resembling a catenary.
  2. of or relating to a chain or linked series.
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Origin of catenary

1780–90; < Latin catēnārius relating to a chain, equivalent to catēn(a) a chain + -ārius -ary
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for catenary

trajectory, arc, arch, contour, loop, swerve, sweep, hairpin, crook, bend, whorl, ambit, concavity, circle, quirk, curvature, festoon, bight, compass, circumference

Examples from the Web for catenary

Historical Examples of catenary

  • The versed sine, or deflection of the middle of the catenary, was 50 feet.

    The life of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Civil Engineer

    Isambard Brunel

  • The surface formed by revolving the catenary about its directrix is named the alysseide.

  • The only surface of revolution having this property is the catenoid formed by the revolution of a catenary about its directrix.

  • One of the most laborious and practically useful works of Giddy was a treatise on the properties of the Catenary Curve.

    Cornish Characters

    S. Baring-Gould

  • Not at all: the catenary appears actually every time that weight and flexibility act in concert.


British Dictionary definitions for catenary

catenary

noun plural -ries
  1. the curve assumed by a heavy uniform flexible cord hanging freely from two points. When symmetrical about the y- axis and intersecting it at y = a, the equation is y = a cosh x / a
  2. the hanging cable between pylons along a railway track, from which the trolley wire is suspended
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adjective Also: catenarian (ˌkætɪˈnɛərɪən)
  1. of, resembling, relating to, or constructed using a catenary or suspended chain
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Word Origin for catenary

C18: from Latin catēnārius relating to a chain
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 catenary

adj.

1872, from Latin catenarius "relating to a chain," from catenanus "chained, fettered," from catena "chain, fetter, shackle" (see chain (n.)). As a noun from 1788 in mathematics. Related: Catenarian.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper