lin·​e·​ar | \ ˈli-nē-ər How to pronounce linear (audio) \

Definition of linear

1a(1) : of, relating to, resembling, or having a graph that is a line and especially a straight line : straight
(2) : involving a single dimension
b(1) : of the first degree with respect to one or more variables
c(1) : characterized by an emphasis on line linear art
(2) : composed of simply drawn lines with little attempt at pictorial representation linear script
d : consisting of a straight chain of atoms a linear molecule
2 : elongated with nearly parallel sides linear leaf — see leaf illustration
3 : having or being a response or output that is directly proportional to the input
4 : of, relating to, or based or depending on sequential development linear thinking a linear narrative

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Other Words from linear

linearity \ ˌli-​nē-​ˈer-​ə-​tē How to pronounce linear (audio) , -​ˈa-​rə-​ \ noun
linearly \ ˈli-​nē-​ər-​lē How to pronounce linear (audio) \ adverb

Examples of linear in a Sentence

a flat, almost linear horizon the bullets from early firearms were notorious for not following a strictly linear path through the air
Recent Examples on the Web The format of the movie (which premiered last night at the Tribeca Film Festival) is mostly linear, though the narrative largely skips over his early life beyond a few passing references by Bourdain and the brother who survives him. Leah Greenblatt,, 12 June 2021 Looking at the progress of startup ecosystems around the world, one thing is clear: growth of large-scale billion-dollar companies is not linear. Alex Lazarow, Forbes, 8 June 2021 Their growth hasn’t been linear, but both keep getting better and better., 3 June 2021 Gaga encourages others to have patience with themselves, even if their progress isn't linear. Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, 21 May 2021 Toward the end of the pilot, Gaga explained that the path to conquering mental illness is not linear and offered some advice for others who are struggling with their own demons. Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times, 21 May 2021 The spacecraft's return home will not be linear, according to NASA. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 11 May 2021 In a way, this moment is a thesis for Shrill's third and final season: Progress, especially toward one's self-image, isn't linear. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, 7 May 2021 Climbing to the top of these gentle slopes, your eye is drawn to circular and linear patterns. Alex Schoeman, Quartz, 29 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'linear.' 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 linear

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

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Time Traveler for linear

Time Traveler

The first known use of linear was circa 1656

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Statistics for linear

Last Updated

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Linear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for linear



English Language Learners Definition of linear

: formed by lines : made up of lines
: forming a line
: of or relating to the length of something


lin·​ear | \ ˈli-nē-ər How to pronounce linear (audio) \

Kids Definition of linear

1 : made up of, relating to, or like a line : straight
2 : involving a single dimension


lin·​ear | \ ˈlin-ē-ər How to pronounce linear (audio) \

Medical Definition of linear

: of, relating to, or resembling a line

Other Words from linear

linearity \ ˌlin-​ē-​ˈar-​ət-​ē How to pronounce linear (audio) \ noun, plural linearities
linearly \ ˈlin-​ē-​ər-​lē How to pronounce linear (audio) \ adverb


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