hy·​per·​bo·​la hī-ˈpər-bə-lə How to pronounce hyperbola (audio)
plural hyperbolas or hyperbolae hī-ˈpər-bə-(ˌ)lē How to pronounce hyperbola (audio)
: a plane curve generated by a point so moving that the difference of the distances from two fixed points is a constant : a curve formed by the intersection of a double right circular cone with a plane that cuts both halves of the cone

Illustration of hyperbola

Illustration of hyperbola
  • AB CD axes
  • F F′ foci
  • xy zw asymptotes
  • h h′ h″ h′′′ hyperbola

Examples of hyperbola in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web On it, black and white hyperbolas formed a zebra-like pattern, indicating structures of some sort underground. WIRED, 28 Sep. 2023 The corresponding mathematical function is a hyperbola. Seriously Science, Discover Magazine, 2 Feb. 2018 Claira Chong can graph hyperbola but couldn't write a check. Karina Bland, The Arizona Republic, 22 Apr. 2021 This same relationship between monetary aggregates and the value of a currency (a hyperbola, for those who remember geometry) applies to other advanced economies and to other monetary measures such as M2 money supply. Douglas Carr, National Review, 14 Sep. 2020 The graphs of such curves are the conic sections — circles, parabolas, ellipses and hyperbolas. Quanta Magazine, 9 July 2013 The class doesn’t cover some lessons on circles, hyperbolas, and ellipses, but those topics are more relevant to precalculus, Gurule said. Shaina Cavazos, The Atlantic, 9 Feb. 2018 Clouds are never spheres, nor mountains cones, nor Ponderosa pines; bark is not smooth; and where the land and sea so variously lie about each other and lightly kiss, is no hyperbola. Evelyn Lamb, Smithsonian, 24 Apr. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hyperbola.' 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, from Greek hyperbolē

First Known Use

1668, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hyperbola was in 1668

Dictionary Entries Near hyperbola

Cite this Entry

“Hyperbola.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyperbola. Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on hyperbola

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