el·​lip·​ti·​cal | \ i-ˈlip-ti-kəl How to pronounce elliptical (audio) , e-\
variants: or elliptic \ i-​ˈlip-​tik How to pronounce elliptic (audio) , e-​ \

Definition of elliptical

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or shaped like an ellipse
2a : of, relating to, or marked by ellipsis or an ellipsis
b(1) : of, relating to, or marked by extreme economy of speech or writing
(2) : of or relating to deliberate obscurity (as of literary or conversational style)


plural ellipticals

Definition of elliptical (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : elliptical galaxy In Hubble's scheme, galaxies are divided into ellipticals and spirals.— Roberto G. Abraham et al.
2 : elliptical trainer Ellipticals move in a smooth, oval motion, like riding a bike standing up, and offer great features like your beloved treadmill.— Monique Savin

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Other Words from elliptical


elliptically \ i-​ˈlip-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce elliptically (audio) , e-​ \ adverb

Examples of elliptical in a Sentence


The moon follows an elliptical path around the Earth. a writer with an elliptical style

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In its elliptical 151-day orbit, 2019 LF6 goes out past Venus and at certain points, comes closer to the Sun than Mercury does. Fox News, "Massive, kilometer-sized asteroid was just found orbiting the Sun," 10 July 2019 In an initially elliptical orbit measuring about 186 by 534 miles, the dispenser will release a satellite known as Oculus 13 minutes after launch. William Harwood, CBS News, "SpaceX Falcon Heavy poised for dramatic night launch," 24 June 2019 Contrary to popular belief, Earth’s distance from the sun, which changes along its elliptical orbit, has nothing to do with seasonal differences in temperature and sunlight. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About Seasons," 16 Apr. 2019 As the astronauts began the first stage of their descent, the engine ignited and the computer slotted the lander into an elliptical orbit that brought them within 50,000 feet of the surface. Stephen Witt, WIRED, "Apollo 11: Mission Out of Control," 24 June 2019 Lenticular galaxies, such as the iconic Sombrero Galaxy, sit between elliptical and spiral galaxies. National Geographic, "https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/universe/galaxies.html," 17 Apr. 2019 Steph Curry couldn’t make a basketball go through these elliptical, half-size hoops. Steve Rubenstein, SFChronicle.com, "Follow the smell of deep-fried Twinkies. Soon you’ll be at the San Mateo fair," 7 June 2019 Forget about the rectangle thing and upgrade to an elliptical where the math is on your side. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Everyone's a Champ When They Play on an Elliptical Pool Table," 16 July 2015 One photo shows Ari on a treadmill (or elliptical, hard to tell) with Apple’s 1999 original orange iBook (yes, the exact same one Elle Woods outstandingly rocks at Harvard Law). Sara Delgado, Glamour, "Ariana Grande's 'Thank U, Next' Video Will Reference Legally Blonde, Mean Girls, 13 Going on 30, and Bring It On," 24 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Traditional fitness equipment NordicTrack has had to rework its collection, too, to offer on-demand classes across bikes, ellipticals, and treadmills to compete against Peloton’s offerings. Natt Garun, The Verge, "The future of fitness is together but alone," 18 July 2019 The 16th-floor gym offered three treadmills, two ellipticals, one bike, a solid weight set, good sunrise views and homey touches like a bowl of apples. New York Times, "An Ottawa Hotel Is an Ode to Canada," 2 June 2018 Students at Ohio Ave are provided self-regulation tools like mini-ellipticals, trampolines, and glitter jars, which children can use to become centered during the school day. Emily Jan, The Atlantic, "The Students and Teachers Upending Traditional Approaches to Discipline," 12 May 2018 Cardio: Life Fitness and Woodway treadmills, ellipticals, and steppers. 2. Katy Schneider, The Cut, "Teyana Taylor’s Nail Salon, a New Gym From Chelsea Piers, and High-Design Seder Plates," 18 Mar. 2018 At the Sears in Fair Oaks Mall - which is now about 78,000 square feet, down from 145,000 square feet - dozens of ellipticals and treadmills were on display, as were hundreds of appliances, many of them wrapped in festive red bows. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Will the rapidly-shrinking store save retail?," 26 Dec. 2017 Technogym will also be building GymKit into all of its treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and stairsteppers in the future. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Everything you need to know about Apple’s GymKit, now out in the US," 13 Dec. 2017 For now, GymKit will only work with cardio machines like treadmills, ellipticals, indoor bikes, and stair-steppers from companies like Life Fitness, Technogym, Matrix, and Star Trac among others. Time, "Your Apple Watch is About to Become More Useful at the Gym," 12 Dec. 2017 The clubs will feature a variety of exercise equipment including treadmills, ellipticals, Arc trainers and stationary bikes — all pointed at 70-inch TVs. Joyce Smith, kansascity, "Planet Fitness is opening two more area locations," 12 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elliptical.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of elliptical


1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1936, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for elliptical


Greek elleiptikos defective, marked by ellipsis, from elleipein

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Statistics for elliptical

Last Updated

22 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for elliptical

The first known use of elliptical was in 1656

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More Definitions for elliptical



English Language Learners Definition of elliptical

: shaped like a flattened circle
: using few words and therefore hard to understand


el·​lip·​ti·​cal | \ i-ˈlip-ti-kəl How to pronounce elliptical (audio) \
variants: or elliptic \ -​tik \

Kids Definition of elliptical

: having the shape of an ellipse an elliptical orbit

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Comments on elliptical

What made you want to look up elliptical? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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