See more synonyms for parabola on
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.

Origin of parabola

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.
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.


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.