ab·​scis·​sa ab-ˈsi-sə How to pronounce abscissa (audio)
plural abscissas also abscissae ab-ˈsi-(ˌ)sē How to pronounce abscissa (audio)
: the horizontal coordinate of a point in a plane Cartesian coordinate system obtained by measuring parallel to the x-axis compare ordinate

Illustration of abscissa

Illustration of abscissa
  • AP abscissa of point P

Word History


borrowed from New Latin (short for linea abscissa, literally, "cut-off line"), going back to Latin, feminine of abscissus, past participle of abscindere "to tear off or away," from ab- ab- + scindere "to split, separate, tear apart," going back to Indo-European *sḱhi-n-d-, nasal present formation from the base *sḱhei̯̯d- "split, separate" — more at shed entry 1

First Known Use

1694, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of abscissa was in 1694

Dictionary Entries Near abscissa

Cite this Entry

“Abscissa.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abscissa. Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


ab·​scis·​sa ab-ˈsis-ə How to pronounce abscissa (audio)
: the number in an ordered pair of numbers (as x in (x, y)) that gives the location of a point along the x-axis

called also x-coordinate

compare ordinate

More from Merriam-Webster on abscissa

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