radius vector

noun,plural radii vec·to·res [vek-tawr-eez, -tohr-], /vɛkˈtɔr iz, -ˈtoʊr-/, radius vectors.
  1. Mathematics. the length of the line segment joining a fixed point or origin to a given point.

  2. Astronomy.

    • the straight line joining two bodies in relative orbital motion, as the line from the sun to a planet at any point in its orbit.

    • the distance between two such bodies at any point in the orbit.

Origin of radius vector

First recorded in 1745–55

Words Nearby radius vector

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use radius vector in a sentence

  • The line drawn from the sun to any point of the orbit (the string from pin to pencil point) is a radius vector.

    A Text-Book of Astronomy | George C. Comstock
  • The radius vector of each planet moves over equal areas in equal times.

    A Text-Book of Astronomy | George C. Comstock
  • The radius vector (or line joining sun and planet) sweeps out equal areas in equal times.

    Pioneers of Science | Oliver Lodge
  • Airy wrote expressing his interest, and asked for particulars about the radius vector.

    History of Astronomy | George Forbes
  • This circumstance occurs, among other occasions, in the case of a radius vector in geometry, and diverging forces in mechanics.

British Dictionary definitions for radius vector

radius vector

  1. maths a line joining a point in space to the origin of polar or spherical coordinates

  2. astronomy an imaginary line joining a satellite to the planet or star around which it is orbiting

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

Scientific definitions for radius vector

radius vector

  1. A line segment that joins the origin and a variable point in a system of polar or spherical coordinates.

  2. The imaginary straight line that connects the center of the Sun or another body with the center of a planet, comet, or other body that orbits it.

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