1. Architecture.
    1. (in ancient Egypt) a quadrilateral masonry mass having smooth, steeply sloping sides meeting at an apex, used as a tomb.
    2. (in ancient Egypt and pre-Columbian Central America) a quadrilateral masonry mass, stepped and sharply sloping, used as a tomb or a platform for a temple.
  2. anything of such form.
  3. a number of persons or things arranged or heaped up in this manner: a pyramid of acrobats; a pyramid of boxes.
  4. a system or structure resembling a pyramid, as in hierarchical form.
  5. Geometry. a solid having a polygonal base, and triangular sides that meet in a point.
  6. Crystallography. any form the planes of which intersect all three of the axes.
  7. Anatomy, Zoology. any of various parts or structures of pyramidal form.
  8. Also called pyramid scheme. a scheme that pyramids, as in speculating on the stock exchange or writing a chain letter.
  9. a tree pruned or trained to grow in conical form.
  10. pyramids, (used with a singular verb) British. a form of pocket billiards for two or four players in which 15 colored balls, initially placed in the form of a triangle, are pocketed with one white cue ball.
verb (used without object)
  1. to take, or become disposed in, the form of a pyramid.
  2. Stock Exchange. (in speculating on margin) to enlarge one's operations in a series of transactions, as on a continued rise or decline in price, by using profits in transactions not yet closed, and consequently not yet in hand, as margin for additional buying or selling in the next transaction.
  3. to increase gradually, as with the completion of each phase: Our problems are beginning to pyramid.
verb (used with object)
  1. to arrange in the form of a pyramid.
  2. to raise or increase (costs, wages, etc.) by adding amounts gradually.
  3. to cause to increase at a steady and progressive rate: New overseas markets have pyramided the company's profits.
  4. Stock Exchange. (in speculating on margin) to operate in, or employ in, pyramiding.

Origin of pyramid

1350–1400; < Latin pȳramid- (stem of pȳramis) < Greek pȳramís; replacing Middle English pyramis < Latin, as above
Related formspyr·a·mid·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pyramids

Contemporary Examples of pyramids

Historical Examples of pyramids

British Dictionary definitions for pyramids


  1. a huge masonry construction that has a square base and, as in the case of the ancient Egyptian royal tombs, four sloping triangular sides
  2. an object, formation, or structure resembling such a construction
  3. maths a solid having a polygonal base and triangular sides that meet in a common vertex
  4. crystallog a crystal form in which three planes intersect all three axes of the crystal
  5. anatomy any pointed or cone-shaped bodily structure or part
  6. finance a group of enterprises containing a series of holding companies structured so that the top holding company controls the entire group with a relatively small proportion of the total capital invested
  7. mainly US the series of transactions involved in pyramiding securities
  8. (plural) a game similar to billiards with fifteen coloured balls
  1. to build up or be arranged in the form of a pyramid
  2. mainly US to speculate in (securities or property) by increasing purchases on additional margin or collateral derived from paper profits associated with high prices of securities and property in a boom
  3. finance to form (companies) into a pyramid
Derived Formspyramidal (pɪˈræmɪdəl), pyramidical or pyramidic, adjectivepyramidally or pyramidically, adverb

Word Origin for pyramid

C16 (earlier pyramis): from Latin pyramis, from Greek puramis, probably from Egyptian
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 pyramids



1550s (earlier in Latin form piramis, late 14c.), from French pyramide (Old French piramide "obelisk, stela," 12c.), from Latin pyramides, plural of pyramis "one of the pyramids of Egypt," from Greek pyramis (plural pyramides) "a pyramid," apparently an alteration of Egyptian pimar "pyramid." Financial sense is from 1911. Related: Pyramidal.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pyramids in Medicine


  1. A solid figure with a polygonal base and triangular faces that meet at a common point.
  2. A structure or part shaped like a pyramid.
Related formspy•rami•dal (pĭ-rămĭ-dl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

pyramids in Culture


A group of huge monuments in the desert of Egypt (see also Egypt), built as burial vaults for ancient Egyptian kings. The age of pyramid building in Egypt began about 2700 b.c. (See under “World History to 1550.”)


A group of huge monuments in the Egyptian desert, built as burial vaults for the pharaohs and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The pyramids have square bases and four triangular faces. Pyramid building began in Egypt (see also Egypt) about 2700 b.c. and required vast amounts of slave labor.

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.