cat·​e·​nary ˈka-tə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce catenary (audio)
 especially British  kə-ˈtē-nə-rē
plural catenaries
: the curve assumed by a cord of uniform density and cross section that is perfectly flexible but not capable of being stretched and that hangs freely from two fixed points
: something in the form of a catenary
catenary adjective

Examples of catenary in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The catenary between Kensington and Michigan City had been replaced nine years ago, Fleshman said, but much of the catenary between Michigan City and South Bend had been there since the 1940s. Tim Zorn,, 28 Sep. 2021 Fuel cells are an attractive way to electrify rail lines where adding a third rail or catenary is unworkable or cost-prohibitive, and GM is working with train-maker Wabtec to adapt GM's Hydrotec fuel cell platform to power freight locomotives. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 20 Apr. 2022 Their catenaries hug the curves in Sheree Hovsepian’s photograms, layered with stretches of arced pantyhose in what might be called femme modernism. Lori Waxman,, 31 May 2018 The steel catenary riser also takes up less deck space. Ryan Maye Handy, Houston Chronicle, 2 May 2018 From the main entrance near Broad and Noble Streets, the trail switchbacks past urban glades, clusters of benches, reimagined steel catenaries, and a public art sculpture that resembles (much too literally) a telephone pole. Inga Saffron,, 19 Apr. 2018 Click on a title like catenary-on-azure, and you’ll be directed to a webpage where a single catenary chain multiplies into dozens and then hundreds, forming a beating circular GIF made from hundreds of individual GIFs. Liz Stinson, WIRED, 8 Oct. 2014 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'catenary.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin catenaria, from Latin, feminine of catenarius of a chain, from catena

First Known Use

1788, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of catenary was in 1788

Dictionary Entries Near catenary

Cite this Entry

“Catenary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

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