pa·​rab·​o·​la | \ pə-ˈra-bə-lə How to pronounce parabola (audio) \

Definition of parabola

1 : a plane curve generated by a point moving so that its distance from a fixed point is equal to its distance from a fixed line : the intersection of a right circular cone with a plane parallel to an element of the cone
2 : something bowl-shaped (such as an antenna or microphone reflector)

Illustration of parabola

Illustration of parabola

parabola 1: F fixed point; CD fixed line; x moving point; AB axis; xy distance from x to CD; pp′ parabola

Examples of parabola in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The cast and crew of that movie, though, was able to reset and position for the next scene between the 30-second intervals of zero-g on each parabola. Robert Z. Pearlman, Ars Technica, "Everything we know—and don’t—about Tom Cruise’s plans to film a movie in space," 18 June 2020 When air resistance is very low, a projectile moves in the shape of a parabola—a type of mathematical curve. Science Buddies, Scientific American, "The Physics of Baseball: How Far Can You Throw?," 28 May 2015 Quadratics and Parabolas 101 First, a quick review about quadratic equations and parabolas. Jonathan Corum, New York Times, "This Professor’s ‘Amazing’ Trick Makes Quadratic Equations Easier," 5 Feb. 2020 How the new method works This alternate method for solving quadratic equations uses the fact that parabolas are symmetrical. Jonathan Corum, New York Times, "This Professor’s ‘Amazing’ Trick Makes Quadratic Equations Easier," 5 Feb. 2020 The graph of the logistic equation is simply an upside-down parabola that rises quickly if the population is small but drops precipitously if the population is larger than the environment can sustain. Quanta Magazine, "A Brazilian Wunderkind Who Calms Chaos," 12 Aug. 2014 There followed a dozen more parabolas, with Greg and Mollie floating, flipping, doing handstands, curling into balls and being tossed around the cabin. John Kelly, Washington Post, "A most unusual marriage proposal: floating weightless in a plummeting plane," 22 Oct. 2019 Typically used to train folks going into space, the Ilyushin flies a giant parabola, providing 20 seconds or so of weightlessness at a time, between 45-degree climbs and descents. Wired, "How to Change the Tires on a Race Car—at Zero Gravity," 30 Nov. 2019 This curve is similar to the Gaussian bell curve, or the downward parabola. Quanta Magazine, "How Can We Tell Which Forecasts Are True?," 13 Oct. 2016

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

1575, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for parabola

borrowed from New Latin, borrowed from Greek parabolḗ "juxtaposition, placement of a figure in contact with another, parabola" — more at parable

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Time Traveler for parabola

Time Traveler

The first known use of parabola was in 1575

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Statistics for parabola

Last Updated

10 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Parabola.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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How to pronounce parabola (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of parabola

technical : a curve that is shaped like the path of something that is thrown forward and high in the air and falls back to the ground

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More from Merriam-Webster on parabola

Spanish Central: Translation of parabola

Nglish: Translation of parabola for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of parabola for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about parabola

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