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

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 Simply put, the moon glides across an elliptical that is constantly rotating around the zodiac. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "A Beginner's Guide to Eclipses in 2018 and How They Can Affect Your Life," 16 July 2018 Adapted from a popular manga and unspooling over a single day, the modest movie is gauzy and elliptical. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "‘The Seagull’ Brings Chekhov’s Doleful Comedy to Cinemas," 4 May 2018 The elliptical provided people a way to exercise that is similar to running without straining the feet and joints the way that running on a treadmill can. USA TODAY, "The biggest exercise fad the year you were born," 12 July 2018 Unlike her characters, who tend to be laconic and aloof, and her narratives, which are elliptical and enigmatic, Denis speaks fluently, linearly, and sometimes at great length, with an instinctual command of pacing, foreshadowing, and suspense. Alice Gregory, The New Yorker, "The Fearless Cinema of Claire Denis," 19 May 2018 Fitness regimen: Works out almost every day for at least 30 minutes, alternating among elliptical machines, treadmills, swimming, tennis, and bike riding. Erin Flaherty, Marie Claire, "What Nutritionists Really Eat," 19 Apr. 2011 The probe is now in the process of aligning itself into an elliptical orbit that will enable studies of the solar wind near its source. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "There’s a new record-holder for closest human object to the Sun," 30 Oct. 2018 Sedna's elliptical orbit takes it as close to the sun as 76 astronomical units (AU; the Earth-sun distance, about 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers) and as far away as 936 AU. Nola Taylor Redd, Space.com, "No Need for Planet Nine? Small Objects' Gravity Could Explain Weird Orbits," 5 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 The watch will be able to share information such as heart rate with treadmills, ellipticals, and more. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "What to expect from Apple’s September 12 event," 8 Sep. 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

13 May 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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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