[kat-n-er-ee; especially British kuh-tee-nuh-ree]
See more synonyms for catenary on
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.
  1. of, relating to, or resembling a catenary.
  2. of or relating to a chain or linked series.

Origin of catenary

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

Examples from the Web for catenary

Historical Examples of catenary

British Dictionary definitions for 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
adjective Also: catenarian (ˌkætɪˈnɛərɪən)
  1. of, resembling, relating to, or constructed using a catenary or suspended chain

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

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper