[trahy-ang-gyuh-ley-shuh n]
noun Surveying, Navigation.
  1. a technique for establishing the distance between any two points, or the relative position of two or more points, by using such points as vertices of a triangle or series of triangles, such that each triangle has a side of known or measurable length (base or base line) that permits the size of the angles of the triangle and the length of its other two sides to be established by observations taken either upon or from the two ends of the base line.
  2. the triangles thus formed and measured.

Origin of triangulation

1810–20; < Medieval Latin triangulātiōn- (stem of triangulātiō) the making of triangles. See triangulate, -ion Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for triangulation

Contemporary Examples of triangulation

Historical Examples of triangulation

  • If I had a transit, I could determine that by a vertical angle,––triangulation.

    Out of the Depths

    Robert Ames Bennet

  • He learns much of triangulation and of aneroid computations.

    Oswald Langdon

    Carson Jay Lee

  • The distances from each cannon muzzle had been obtained by triangulation.

    Charles Carleton Coffin

    William Elliot Griffis, D. D.

  • In surveying, the base on which the triangulation is founded.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

  • We'll have to find this hidden wireless by triangulation, just as we caught the dynamiters.

    The Secret Wireless

    Lewis E. Theiss

British Dictionary definitions for triangulation


  1. a method of surveying in which an area is divided into triangles, one side (the base line) and all angles of which are measured and the lengths of the other lines calculated trigonometrically
  2. the network of triangles so formed
  3. the fixing of an unknown point, as in navigation, by making it one vertex of a triangle, the other two being known
  4. chess a key manoeuvre in the endgame in which the king moves thrice in a triangular path to leave the opposing king with the move and at a disadvantage
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 triangulation

1818, from Medieval Latin triangulationem (mid-12c., nominative triangulatio), noun of action from Latin *triangulare, from triangulum (see triangle).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

triangulation in Science


  1. A method of determining the relative positions of points in space by measuring the distances, and sometimes angles, between those points and other reference points whose positions are known. Triangulation often involves the use of trigonometry. It is commonly used in the navigation of aircraft and boats, and is the method used in the Global Positioning System , in which the reference points are satellites.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.