[par-uh-lel, -luhl]



verb (used with object), par·al·leled, par·al·lel·ing or (especially British) par·al·lelled, par·al·lel·ling.

Nearby words

  1. parallactic,
  2. parallactic ellipse,
  3. parallactic motion,
  4. parallax,
  5. parallax test,
  6. parallel bars,
  7. parallel circuit,
  8. parallel cousin,
  9. parallel cousin marriage,
  10. parallel evolution

Origin of parallel

1540–50; < Latin parallēlus < Greek parállēlos side by side, equivalent to par- par- + állēlos one another; see allo-, else


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

British Dictionary definitions for parallel processing

parallel processing


the performance by a computer system of two or more simultaneous operations


adjective (when postpositive, usually foll by to)

separated by an equal distance at every point; never touching or intersectingparallel walls
corresponding; similarparallel situations
  1. Also: consecutive(of two or more parts or melodies) moving in similar motion but keeping the same interval apart throughoutparallel fifths
  2. denoting successive chords in which the individual notes move in parallel motion
grammar denoting syntactic constructions in which the constituents of one construction correspond to those of the other
computing operating on several items of information, instructions, etc, simultaneouslyCompare serial (def. 6)


maths one of a set of parallel lines, planes, etc
an exact likeness
a comparison
Also called: parallel of latitude any of the imaginary lines around the earth parallel to the equator, designated by degrees of latitude ranging from 0° at the equator to 90° at the poles
  1. a configuration of two or more electrical components connected between two points in a circuit so that the same voltage is applied to each (esp in the phrase in parallel)
  2. (as modifier)a parallel circuit See series (def. 6)
printing the character (∥) used as a reference mark
a trench or line lying in advance of and parallel to other defensive positions

verb -lels, -leling or -leled (tr)

to make parallel
to supply a parallel to
to be a parallel to or correspond withyour experience parallels mine

Word Origin for parallel

C16: via French and Latin from Greek parallēlos alongside one another, from para- 1 + allēlos one another

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 parallel processing
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for parallel processing




Of or relating to lines or surfaces that are separated everywhere from each other by the same distance.


Any of the imaginary lines encircling the Earth's surface parallel to the plane of the equator, used to represent degrees of latitude. See illustration at longitude.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for parallel processing

parallel processing

The use of many different computer processors to work on different parts of a problem simultaneously. This is one way of increasing the speed at which computers can work, with each processor working on a part of a larger problem. (Compare serial processing.)


The SETI project recently introduced a parallel processing system that allows individuals to use their personal computers to analyze data and assist in the search for extraterrestrial life.

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.