• synonyms


  1. of, consisting of, or using lines: linear design.
  2. pertaining to or represented by lines: linear dimensions.
  3. extended or arranged in a line: a linear series.
  4. involving measurement in one dimension only; pertaining to length: linear measure.
  5. of or relating to the characteristics of a work of art in which forms and rhythms are defined chiefly in terms of line.
  6. having the form of or resembling a line: linear nebulae.
  7. Mathematics.
    1. consisting of, involving, or describable by terms of the first degree.
    2. having the same effect on a sum as on each of the summands: a linear operation.
  8. Electronics. delivering an output that is directly proportional to the input: a linear circuit; a linear amplifier.
  9. threadlike; narrow and elongated: a linear leaf.
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Origin of linear

First recorded in 1635–45, linear is from the Latin word līneāris of, belonging to lines. See line1, -ar1
Related formslin·e·ar·ly, adverbnon·lin·e·ar, adjectivesub·lin·e·ar, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for linearly

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • As the intensity of the gravitational field decreased, the velocity of the ship increased—not linearly, but logarithmically.

    Unwise Child

    Gordon Randall Garrett

British Dictionary definitions for linearly


  1. of, in, along, or relating to a line
  2. of or relating to length
  3. resembling, represented by, or consisting of a line or lines
  4. having one dimension
  5. designating a style in the arts, esp painting, that obtains its effects through line rather than colour or light and in which the edges of forms and planes are sharply definedCompare painterly
  6. maths of or relating to the first degreea linear equation
  7. narrow and having parallel edgesa linear leaf
  8. electronics
    1. (of a circuit, etc) having an output that is directly proportional to inputlinear amplifier
    2. having components arranged in a line
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Derived Formslinearity (ˌlɪnɪˈærɪtɪ), nounlinearly, adverb

Word Origin

C17: from Latin līneāris of or by means of lines
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 linearly



1640s, from French linéaire, from Latin linearis "belonging to a line," from linea "string, line" (see line (n.)). Essentially the same word as lineal; "in Latin linearis the original suffix -alis was dissimilated to -aris, but in Late Latin this rule was no longer productive and the formation or re-formation in -alis remained unchanged." [Barnhart]. Linear A and Linear B (1902-3) were names given to two related forms of linear Minoan writing discovered 1894-1901 in Crete by Sir Arthur Evans.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

linearly in Medicine


  1. Of, relating to, or resembling a line; straight.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

linearly in Science


  1. Being or resembling a line.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.