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

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: Adjective However, Lawrence has admitted using an elliptical machine did reduce the credibility of his achievement. Steven Poole, CNN, "'Iron Cowboy' pushes the limits of human endurance," 3 May 2021 The Moon has a near-point (perigee) and a far-point (apogee) in its monthly orbit of Earth because that orbital path is slightly elliptical in shape. Jamie Carter, Forbes, "In Photos: Spectacular ‘Super Pink Moon’ Dazzles World And Sets-Up ‘Blood Moon’ Eclipse," 26 Apr. 2021 Its terrific speeds are the result of its highly eccentric and elliptical orbital path around the Sun, which is highly inclined to Earth and takes it closer to the Sun than Mercury and twice as far from the Sun as Mars. Jamie Carter, Forbes, "A Kilometer-Wide Asteroid Will Blast Past Earth This Weekend At An Extraordinary Speed," 20 Mar. 2021 Thrillers don’t get National Book Award nominations; Ackerman’s style is elliptical and interior, concerned with emotional consequences of armed conflict. Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times, "How an admiral and a war vet-turned-novelist teamed up on a smart technothriller," 4 Mar. 2021 Written in a form that’s not prose and not poetry, but some amalgam in which Grant’s observations are both elliptical and elusive, the memoir hints at things so large that words alone don’t suffice. Washington Post, "The best food books of 2020 that will get you thinking, not cooking," 24 Dec. 2020 As its name suggests, an under-desk elliptical fits neatly under your desk (or dining room table). Nicole Saunders, NBC News, "5 best under-desk ellipticals of 2020: Cubii, Sunny Health and more," 16 Nov. 2020 There are other clues out there, like the way light from remote stars bends on its journey to us, and the consistency of the cosmic microwave background, and the elliptical and spiraling shapes of galaxies. Ryan Bradley, Popular Science, "Glimpse the gold mine where scientists are searching for dark matter," 27 Oct. 2020 The most common workout machines are the treadmill, elliptical and stationary bike. Bre Richey, chicagotribune.com, "Treadmill vs. elliptical vs. bike," 28 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun However, an elliptical has many features that may be beneficial for you. Bre Richey, chicagotribune.com, "Treadmill vs. elliptical vs. bike," 28 Mar. 2021 The Nautilus E618 elliptical comes equipped with Bluetooth connectivity and dozens of training programs. Bre Richey, chicagotribune.com, "Treadmill vs. elliptical vs. bike," 28 Mar. 2021 An onsite fitness center offering a treadmill, elliptical, dumbbells and a stretch ballet barre recently was added. Dallas News, "Final condo building set for construction," 28 Feb. 2021 But there’s a lot more to this elliptical than just easy storage. Dave Johnson, Forbes, "The 7 Best Ellipticals For Reaching Your Fitness Goals At Home," 27 Feb. 2021 Simply put, the moon glides across an elliptical that is constantly rotating around the zodiac. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "Your Guide to Lunar & Solar Eclipses in 2021 and How They’ll Affect Your Life," 23 Dec. 2020 But what little there has been — my wife, Ruth, behind a closed door on a Zoom call; me in the basement on the elliptical — has caused whimpering and whining. John Kelly, Washington Post, "More dog tales: We’re learning the quirks of Archie the rescue," 8 Nov. 2020 And while the Fold did weigh heavily in my gym shorts pocket, the larger display was just perfect for reading on the elliptical. Mike Feibus, USA TODAY, "Smartphone or tablet? What is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 really and is it for you?," 8 Sep. 2020 In his first year of retirement, Mike lost 40 pounds by hitting the elliptical and rowing machines at the gym, then gradually lost another 15. Michelle Matthews | Mmatthews@al.com, al, "If Mobile looks a little cleaner, thank Mike Wilber," 25 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for elliptical

Time Traveler

The first known use of elliptical was in 1656

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Statistics for elliptical

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Elliptical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elliptical. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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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

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