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[ih-lip-ti-kuh l]
See more synonyms for elliptical on Thesaurus.com
adjective Also el·lip·tic.
  1. pertaining to or having the form of an ellipse.
  2. pertaining to or marked by grammatical ellipsis.
  3. (of speech or writing) expressed with extreme or excessive economy; relieved of irrelevant matter: to converse in elliptical sentences.
  4. (of a style of speaking or writing) tending to be ambiguous, cryptic, or obscure: an elliptical prose that is difficult to translate.
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  1. Astronomy. elliptical galaxy.
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Origin of elliptical

1650–60; < Greek elleiptik(ós) defective (see ellipsis, -tic) + -al1
Related formsel·lip·ti·cal·ness, nounnon·el·lip·tic, adjectivenon·el·lip·ti·cal, adjectivenon·el·lip·ti·cal·ly, adverbo·ver·el·lip·ti·cal, adjectiveo·ver·el·lip·ti·cal·ly, adverbsub·el·lip·tic, adjectivesub·el·lip·ti·cal, adjectiveun·el·lip·ti·cal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for elliptic

Historical Examples

  • Genius is synthetic, elliptic, sudden, but always clear and sure.

    The Goat-gland Transplantation

    Sydney B. Flower

  • According to Pausanias, it was made of cedar-wood, and elliptic in shape.

  • From what does the elliptic motion in the solar system arise?

    The Story of the Heavens

    Robert Stawell Ball

  • This elliptic orbit is mainly determined by the attraction of the sun.

    The Story of the Heavens

    Robert Stawell Ball

  • These are the ends of elliptic cylinders in connection with the vaulting.

British Dictionary definitions for elliptic


  1. relating to or having the shape of an ellipse
  2. relating to or resulting from ellipsis
  3. (of speech, literary style, etc)
    1. very condensed or concise, often so as to be obscure or ambiguous
    2. circumlocutory or long-winded
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Also (for senses 1, 2): elliptic
Derived Formselliptically, adverbellipticalness, noun


The use of elliptical to mean circumlocutory should be avoided as it may be interpreted wrongly as meaning condensed or concise
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 elliptic


1726, from Greek elleiptikos "pertaining to an ellipse," from elleipein (see ellipsis).

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1650s, "elliptic in shape;" see elliptic + -al (1). Grammatical sense of "missing essential words or phrases" is recorded from 1778 (see ellipsis). Related: Elliptically.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper