[ ih-lip-ti-kuh l ]
/ ɪˈlɪp tɪ kəl /

adjective Also el·lip·tic.

pertaining to or having the form of an ellipse.
pertaining to or marked by grammatical ellipsis.
(of speech or writing) expressed with extreme or excessive economy; relieved of irrelevant matter: to converse in elliptical sentences.
(of a style of speaking or writing) tending to be ambiguous, cryptic, or obscure: an elliptical prose that is difficult to translate.


Astronomy. elliptical galaxy.

Nearby words

  1. elliptic function,
  2. elliptic geometry,
  3. elliptic integral,
  4. elliptic paraboloid,
  5. elliptic spring,
  6. elliptical amputation,
  7. elliptical galaxy,
  8. elliptical light,
  9. elliptical polarization,
  10. elliptical trainer

Origin of elliptical

1650–60; < Greek elleiptik(ós) defective (see ellipsis, -tic) + -al1

Related forms

elliptical trainer


an exercise machine like a stationary bike without a seat, so that exercising is done in an upright position, and having pedals that the user moves in an elliptical pattern, believed to minimize strain on the knee joints.
Also called elliptical, elliptical machine.

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

Examples from the Web for elliptical

British Dictionary definitions for elliptical


/ (ɪˈlɪptɪkəl) /


relating to or having the shape of an ellipse
relating to or resulting from ellipsis
(of speech, literary style, etc)
  1. very condensed or concise, often so as to be obscure or ambiguous
  2. circumlocutory or long-winded
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 elliptical



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper