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 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 Though generally at home with rigorous lines, the designer paired those with diamond parabolas on the earrings shown exclusively here. Vogue, "Haute Couture Jewelry Report: A New Generation Alights," 9 July 2019 At the top of that parabola, additional steering rockets fired to flip the Orion to a proper descent orientation. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "With NASA's Orion Abort-System Test, Americans Just Took a Small (and Very Big) Step Closer to the Moon," 2 July 2019 In the logistic equation for population growth, a rate r between 1 and 4 controls the steepness of the parabola, reflecting how drastically the population responds to an abundance or shortage of resources. Quanta Magazine, "A Brazilian Wunderkind Who Calms Chaos," 12 Aug. 2014 The problem is that the arc of a player’s career follows the same parabola as Curry’s shots. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "Stephen Curry Wants to Get Better at Shooting," 8 Oct. 2018 Even the single, round headlight is a real glass parabola, rimmed in polished aluminum. Fortune, "Is the Bigger, Beefier Ducati Scrambler 1100 the One for You?," 27 June 2018

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

New Latin, from Greek parabolē, literally, comparison

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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

26 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Parabola.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 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

Comments on parabola

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


not to be intimidated or subdued

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