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 Full weightlessness came on the fourth parabola, when everyone floated off the floor. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 16 July 2021 The host Pride were one minute away from the desperation sprint of stoppage time when Petersen collected a pass from Marta and launched the ball in a parabola from outside the box into the top corner of the netting. Julia Poe,, 21 June 2021 The ball leaves his hands immediately, seeming to travel straight up before following a tight parabola toward the basket. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, 26 Sep. 2020 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, 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, 28 May 2015 Quadratics and Parabolas 101 First, a quick review about quadratic equations and parabolas. Jonathan Corum, New York Times, 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, 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, 12 Aug. 2014

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

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The first known use of parabola was in 1575

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Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Parabola.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for parabola



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

More from Merriam-Webster on parabola

Nglish: Translation of parabola for Spanish Speakers

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


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