par·​a·​bol·​ic ˌper-ə-ˈbä-lik How to pronounce parabolic (audio)
: expressed by or being a parable : allegorical
: of, having the form of, or relating to a parabola
motion in a parabolic curve
parabolically adverb

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The two distinct meanings of parabolic trace back to the development of Late Latin and New Latin. Late Latin is the Latin language used by writers in the third to sixth centuries. In that language, the word for "parable" was parabola—hence, the "parable" sense of parabolic. New Latin refers to the Latin used since the end of the medieval period, especially in regard to scientific description and classification. In New Latin, parabola names the same geometrical curve as it does in English. Both meanings of parabola were drawn from the Greek word for "comparison": parabolē.

Examples of parabolic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The giveaways are found not just in the various overgrown buildings and streets seen in the film, but in the specificity of one shot that features the remnants of the parabolic arches that define the center of Los Angeles International Airport. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, 11 May 2024 It is not widely believed that Archimedes used a single parabolic mirror, as it cannot be aimed the same way a flat mirror can. Taylor Nicioli, CNN, 8 Mar. 2024 In recent weeks, its stock price seems to have reached a parabolic state. Joel Shulman, Forbes, 26 Feb. 2024 The parabolic profiling construction blends together five different radii to create a central parabolic arc, so the board responds to different types of riding and rider ability. Nathan Borchelt, Travel + Leisure, 21 Dec. 2023 See all Example Sentences for parabolic 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'parabolic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


(sense 1) Middle English parabolik, borrowed from Late Latin parabolicus, borrowed from Greek parabolikós "figurative," from parabolḗ "comparison, parable" + -ikos -ic entry 1; (sense 2) borrowed from New Latin parabolicus, from parabola parabola + -icus -ic entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of parabolic was in the 15th century


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Cite this Entry

“Parabolic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2024.

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