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el·​lip·​ti·​cal i-ˈlip-ti-kəl How to pronounce elliptical (audio)
variants or elliptic
: of, relating to, or shaped like an ellipse
: of, relating to, or marked by ellipsis or an ellipsis
: of, relating to, or marked by extreme economy of speech or writing
: of or relating to deliberate obscurity (as of literary or conversational style)
elliptically adverb


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plural ellipticals
: elliptical galaxy
In Hubble's scheme, galaxies are divided into ellipticals and spirals.Roberto G. Abraham et al.
: 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

Examples of elliptical in a Sentence

Adjective The moon follows an elliptical path around the Earth. a writer with an elliptical style
Recent Examples on the Web
This phenomenon occurs when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit, according to NASA. The Arizona Republic, 23 Jan. 2024 Yes, that rowing machine and elliptical are likely to be on sale in January. Marla Jo Fisher, Hartford Courant, 3 Jan. 2024 Mimas has an elliptical orbit around Saturn, and over time, the long axis of the orbit shifts relative to Saturn. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 7 Feb. 2024 Theoretically, liquid water should flow beneath Mimas’s icy crust: Mimas has an elliptical orbit around Saturn that sends the moon swinging closer to the ringed planet and then farther away from it. Robin George Andrews, Scientific American, 7 Feb. 2024 There’s a luxuriantly sensuous quality to the prose of British novelist Deborah Levy — a tactile grasp of land, weather and flesh — that feels intensely cinematic while reading it, as well as an elliptical, concentrated interior psychology that feels liable to trip up any potential adapters. Guy Lodge, Variety, 3 Feb. 2024 Eventually, more data, combined with more expansive thinking, ushered in a better model—a heliocentric solar system based on elliptical orbits. Dan Rockmore, The New Yorker, 15 Jan. 2024 The cause is Mercury’s orbit of the sun, which is slightly elliptical. Jamie Carter, Forbes, 10 Dec. 2023 This orbital configuration, known as a resonance, causes Io to wobble back and forth, making its orbit elliptical. WIRED, 24 Dec. 2023
In the modern universe galaxies seem to come in two basic forms: featureless, roundish clouds called ellipticals, and flat, spidery discs like our Milky Way home. Dennis Overbye, New York Times, 5 Jan. 2024 The resort’s fitness center, open 24 hours, includes treadmills, ellipticals, and free weights. Patricia Doherty, Travel + Leisure, 1 Nov. 2023 How to shop for an elliptical during Cyber Monday As SELF has previously reported, your budget and living space should be top-of-mind when shopping for ellipticals. Sara Coughlin, SELF, 28 Nov. 2022 Though most under-desk ellipticals can execute this task, the Cubii JR1 does it phenomenally. Alyssa Brascia, Peoplemag, 21 July 2023 Zen Moments After a workout in the gym (treadmills, ellipticals and free weights are a few things available), a trip to the Cloud 9 Spa is a just reward. Dwight Brown, Essence, 11 July 2023 The Winner Hotel de Russie, a Rocco Forte Hotel With terraces overlooking Piazza del Popolo — one of the most impressive squares (well, ellipticals) in Italy — Hotel de Russie, a Rocco Forte Hotel, is a classic Roman favorite with an unexpected secret. Nina Ruggiero, Travel + Leisure, 11 July 2023 This under-desk elliptical is excellent for those who seek easygoing pedaling. Kevin Cortez, Popular Mechanics, 9 Feb. 2023 This under-the-desk bike quietly glides like an elliptical without sacrificing space, thanks to its compact size (24.5 x 17 inches). Katrina Cossey, Verywell Health, 26 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History



Greek elleiptikos defective, marked by ellipsis, from elleipein

First Known Use


1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1936, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of elliptical was in 1656

Dictionary Entries Near elliptical

Cite this Entry

“Elliptical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elliptical. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

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