# hypotenuse

## noun

hy·​pot·​e·​nuse hī-ˈpä-tə-ˌnüs
-ˌnyüz
variants or less commonly hypothenuse
1
: the side of a right-angled triangle that is opposite the right angle
2
: the length of a hypotenuse

## Illustration of hypotenuse

• ac hypotenuse

## Examples of hypotenuse in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Now measure the angle between the hypotenuse and the table. Leila Sloman, Scientific American, 10 Apr. 2023 In the first position, the unequal angles cause the fake hypotenuse to bend in from the true triangle. Mark Wolfmeyer, Popular Mechanics, 25 May 2022 Suddenly, with Werner looming large in his disapproval and Lucas snaking his way to the pragmatic prof’s good graces, maladroit Marguerite is left as the square on the hypotenuse. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 15 June 2023 The quantity c is the length of the longest side, called the hypotenuse. Leila Sloman, Scientific American, 10 Apr. 2023 The hypotenuse will reach diagonally between these two sides. Leila Sloman, Scientific American, 10 Apr. 2023 The hypotenuse is ego. Neil Senturia, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Apr. 2022 The lesson was that the square of the hypotenuse, or longest side, is equal to the sum of the squares of the other sides. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, 16 Dec. 2022 For both before and after, the supposed hypotenuse (the longest side) of the right triangle is not a straight line. Mark Wolfmeyer, Popular Mechanics, 25 May 2022 See More

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

## Word History

Etymology

earlier hypothenusa, hypothenuse, borrowed from Latin hypotēnūsa, borrowed from Greek hypoteínousa, noun derivative (with grammḗ "line" or pleurá "side" understood) from feminine of hypoteínōn, present participle of hypoteínein "to stretch under, put under, subtend," from hypo- hypo- + teínein "to stretch, extend" — more at tenant entry 1

Note: The nominal use of hypoteínousa in Greek is apparent in passages such as the following, from the Deipnosophistae of Athenaeus of Naucratis (10.13), where "line/lines" or "side/sides" are understood: "Apollódōros dè ho arithmētikòs kaì thûsaí phēsin autòn hekatómbēn epì tôi eurēkenai hóti trigṓnou orthogōníou [he] tḕn orthḕn gōnían hypoteínousa íson dýnatai taîs periechoúsais …." ("And Apollodorus the Calculator says that he [Pythagoras] even sacrificed a hecatomb when he discovered that in a right-angled triangle the [square of the] line subtending ("hypoteínousa") the right angle is equal to [the square of] the lines embracing it.)"

First Known Use

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hypotenuse was in 1594

hypotenuse

## Cite this Entry

“Hypotenuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypotenuse. Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

## Kids Definition

hypotenuse

noun
hy·​pot·​e·​nuse hī-ˈpät-ᵊn-ˌ(y)üs
-ˌ(y)üz
1
: the side opposite the right angle of a right triangle
2
: the length of a hypotenuse

## More from Merriam-Webster on hypotenuse

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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