[ ih-lips ]
/ ɪˈlɪps /

noun Geometry.

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.

Nearby words

  1. ellicott city,
  2. ellington,
  3. ellington, duke,
  4. elliot's operation,
  5. elliott,
  6. ellipsis,
  7. ellipsograph,
  8. ellipsoid,
  9. ellipsoid of revolution,
  10. ellipsoidal

Origin of ellipse

1745–55; < French < Latin ellīpsis ellipsis; or by back formation from the plural ellipses


[ ih-lip-sis ]
/ ɪˈlɪp sɪs /

noun, plural el·lip·ses [ih-lip-seez] /ɪˈlɪp siz/.

  1. the omission from a sentence or other construction of one or more words that would complete or clarify the construction, as the omission of who are, while I am, or while we are from I like to interview people sitting down.
  2. the omission of one or more items from a construction in order to avoid repeating the identical or equivalent items that are in a preceding or following construction, as the omission of been to Paris from the second clause of I've been to Paris, but they haven't.
Printing. a mark or marks as ——, …, or * * *, to indicate an omission or suppression of letters or words.

Origin of ellipsis

1560–70; < Latin ellīpsis < Greek élleipsis an omission, equivalent to el- (variant of en- en-2) + leip- (stem of leípein to leave) + -sis -sis

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ellipses

British Dictionary definitions for ellipses


/ (ɪˈlɪps) /


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

Word Origin for ellipse

C18: back formation from ellipsis


/ (ɪˈlɪpsɪs) /

noun plural -ses (-siːz)

Also called: eclipsis omission of parts of a word or sentence
printing a sequence of three dots (…) indicating an omission in text

Word Origin for ellipsis

C16: from Latin, from Greek elleipsis omission, from elleipein to leave out, from leipein to leave

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 ellipses
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for ellipses


[ ĭ-lĭps ]

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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for ellipses


[ (i-lip-sis) ]

A punctuation mark (...) used most often within quotations to indicate that something has been left out. For example, if we leave out parts of the above definition, it can read: “A punctuation mark (...) used most often ... to indicate....”


[ (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.


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.