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See more synonyms for parabola on Thesaurus.com
noun Geometry.
  1. a plane curve formed by the intersection of a right circular cone with a plane parallel to a generator of the cone; the set of points in a plane that are equidistant from a fixed line and a fixed point in the same plane or in a parallel plane. Equation: y2 = 2px or x2 = 2py.
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Origin of parabola

1570–80; < New Latin < Greek parabolḗ an application. See parable
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for parabola

trajectory, arc, arch, contour, loop, swerve, sweep, hairpin, crook, bend, whorl, ambit, concavity, circle, quirk, curvature, festoon, bight, compass, circumference

Examples from the Web for parabola

Historical Examples of parabola

  • He reached the height of the 'parabola,' and is now about to descend.

    Debts of Honor

    Maurus Jkai

  • Is the orbit that of an ellipse, or a circle, or a parabola?

    Aether and Gravitation

    William George Hooper

  • You will remember that a Republican State is represented by a parabola.

  • As a matter of fact the path of a projectile in vacuo is only approximately a parabola.

  • Its actual path will be a curve, which in this case is a parabola.

British Dictionary definitions for parabola


  1. a conic section formed by the intersection of a cone by a plane parallel to its side. Standard equation: y ² = 4 ax, where 2 a is the distance between focus and directrix
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Word Origin for parabola

C16: via New Latin from Greek parabolē a setting alongside; see parable
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 parabola


1570s, from Modern Latin parabola, from Greek parabole "parabola, comparison, analogy; application" (see parable), so called by Apollonius of Perga c.210 B.C.E. because it is produced by "application" of a given area to a given straight line. It had a different sense in Pythagorean geometry. Related: Parabolic.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

parabola in Science


  1. The curve formed by the set of points in a plane that are all equally distant from both a given line (called the directrix) and a given point (called the focus) that is not on the line.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

parabola in Culture



A geometrical shape (see geometry) consisting of a single bend and two lines going off to an infinite distance.

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An object that is propelled away from the Earth and then drawn back by gravity, such as a fly ball in baseball, follows a path shaped like a parabola.
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.