lin·​e·​ar | \ˈli-nē-ər \

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

(2) : of, relating to, based on, or being linear equations, linear differential equations, linear functions, linear transformations, or linear algebra

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 , -​ˈa-​rə-​ \ noun
linearly \ ˈli-​nē-​ər-​lē \ 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

One suspects that jumbled structure was used because a linear account of Gotti’s criminal career would reveal little beyond banal tawdriness. New York Times, "Review: John Travolta Has the Dapper Look, but ‘Gotti’ Is a Mess," 15 June 2018 Here is a plot of ω squared vs. 1/L: That looks fairly linear. Rhett Allain, WIRED, "The Physics of Swinging a Mass on a String for Fun," 9 May 2018 The Guggenheim ramp favors a linear presentation, closer to shop windows in which the sculptures are displayed—looking out at us, and we at them. Lance Esplund, WSJ, "‘Giacometti’ Review: Beyond a Retrospective," 19 June 2018 These storms, which are expected to be less severe than Wednesday's, could also move across the Kansas City area in a linear fashion. Robert A. Cronkleton, kansascity, "Winds could exceed 70 mph, threat of tornadoes, as storms sweep through KC," 2 May 2018 Japanese RPGs are almost uniformly linear experiences. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Octopath Traveler is a modern take on classic Final Fantasy on the Nintendo Switch," 12 July 2018 But esports doesn’t need linear broadcast to keep thriving. Eric Van Allen, WIRED, "Live on ESPN: Is Esports Finally Ready for Its Crossover Moment?," 11 July 2018 In the next and final phase, the work includes the repair of several bridges, the installation of 11,000 tons of asphalt and over 10,000 linear feet of culvert, and the replacement of more than 29,000 linear feet of curbs and road gutters. Luz Lazo, Washington Post, "Another portion of Beach Drive reopens Monday," 8 July 2018 The team’s Saturday win over South Korea hit highs fro any Spanish-Language telecast with an average 7.2 million viewers across the linear network and its streaming counterparts. Michael O'connell, The Hollywood Reporter, "World Cup Ratings: 1 Million Just Streamed Mexico’s Loss," 27 June 2018

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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Statistics for linear

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for linear

The first known use of linear was circa 1656

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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 \

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 \

Medical Definition of linear 

: of, relating to, or resembling a line

Other Words from linear

linearity \ ˌlin-​ē-​ˈar-​ət-​ē \ noun plural -ties
linearly \ ˈlin-​ē-​ər-​lē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on linear

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for linear

Spanish Central: Translation of linear

Nglish: Translation of linear for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of linear for Arabic Speakers

Comments on linear

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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