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 hyperbolae (audio) \

Definition of hyperbola

: 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

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 The graphs of such curves are the conic sections — circles, parabolas, ellipses and hyperbolas. Quanta Magazine, "Mathematicians Shed Light on Minimalist Conjecture," 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, "A Math Class That Makes Tax Season Easier," 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, "How Poetry and Math Intersect," 24 Apr. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of hyperbola

1668, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hyperbola

New Latin, from Greek hyperbolē

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hyperbola

Time Traveler for hyperbola

Time Traveler

The first known use of hyperbola was in 1668

See more words from the same year

Statistics for hyperbola

Cite this Entry

“Hyperbola.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyperbola. Accessed 4 Apr. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on hyperbola

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hyperbola

Comments on hyperbola

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!