prism

[ priz-uh m ]
/ ˈprɪz əm /

noun

Optics. a transparent solid body, often having triangular bases, used for dispersing light into a spectrum or for reflecting rays of light.
Geometry. a solid having bases or ends that are parallel, congruent polygons and sides that are parallelograms.
Crystallography. a form having faces parallel to the vertical axis and intersecting the horizontal axes.

Origin of prism

1560–70; < Late Latin prīsma < Greek prîsma literally, something sawed, akin to prī́zein to saw, prīstēs sawyer
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for prism

British Dictionary definitions for prism

prism

/ (ˈprɪzəm) /

noun

a transparent polygonal solid, often having triangular ends and rectangular sides, for dispersing light into a spectrum or for reflecting and deviating light. They are used in spectroscopes, binoculars, periscopes, etc
a form of crystal with faces parallel to the vertical axis
maths a polyhedron having parallel, polygonal, and congruent bases and sides that are parallelograms

Word Origin for prism

C16: from Medieval Latin prisma, from Greek: something shaped by sawing, from prizein to saw
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

Medicine definitions for prism

prism

[ prĭzəm ]

n.

A solid figure whose bases or ends have the same size and shape and are parallel to one another, and each of whose sides is a parallelogram.
A transparent body of this form, often of glass and usually with triangular ends, used for separating white light passed through it into a spectrum or for reflecting beams of light.
Such a body used in testing or correcting imbalance of the extrinsic ocular muscles.

Related forms

pris•matic (-mătĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for prism

prism

[ prĭzəm ]

A geometric solid whose bases are congruent polygons lying in parallel planes and whose sides are parallelograms.
A solid of this type, often made of glass with triangular ends, used to disperse light and break it up into a spectrum.
A crystal form having 3, 4, 6, 8, or 12 faces parallel to the vertical axis and intersecting the horizontal axis.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for prism

prism

[ (priz-uhm) ]

A solid figure in geometry with bases or ends of the same size and shape and sides that have parallel edges. Also, an object that has this shape.


Note

A prism of glass (or a similar transparent material) can be used to bend different wavelengths of light by different amounts through refraction. This bending separates a beam of white light into a spectrum of colored light.
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.