par·​a·​bol·​ic | \ˌper-ə-ˈbä-lik, ˌpa-rə-\

Definition of parabolic 

1 : expressed by or being a parable : allegorical

2 : of, having the form of, or relating to a parabola motion in a parabolic curve

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from parabolic

parabolically \ˌper-​ə-​ˈbä-​li-​k(ə-​)lē, ˌpa-​rə-​ \ adverb

Did You Know?

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

In particular, natural gas prices experienced a parabolic move over the past 3 trading sessions. Gunjan Banerji, WSJ, "Energy Losses Prompt Emotional Video to Options Firm’s Clients," 21 Nov. 2018 This parabolic flow profile (shown below) solves the equations: something that has been known for over a century. Lee Phillips, Ars Technica, "Turbulence, the oldest unsolved problem in physics," 10 Oct. 2018 Depending on behavior, the systems were placed in elliptic, hyperbolic or parabolic categories. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Anatole Katok, mathematician who explored chaos theory, dies at 73," 9 May 2018 The New Shepard, named for astronaut Alan Shepard, will be Blue Origin's space tourism vehicle, launching passengers up on a parabolic arc before returning them to the ground after a short visit above the von Karman line. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "Jeff Bezos Just Nailed a Vertical Rocket Landing," 24 Nov. 2015 They are made of stiff, lightweight glass, cast in molds that spin as the glass cools to bring it into a parabolic shape. Eric Hand, Science | AAAS, "Rival giant telescopes join forces to seek U.S. funding," 21 May 2018 Depending on behavior, the systems were placed in elliptic, hyperbolic, or parabolic categories. Martin Weil,, "Anatole Katok, mathematician who explored chaos theory, dies at 73," 10 May 2018 In addition, the canted, reflective glass within River Point’s parabolic arch can be expected to magnify the sculpture’s presence. Blair Kamin,, "Calatrava sculpture on the riverfront: Analysis," 9 May 2018 Satellite dishes, some types of microphones, reflecting telescopes and even car headlights benefit from the reflective properties of parabolic dishes. Maya Wei-haas, Smithsonian, "Your Burning Questions About the Olympic Torch, Answered," 9 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'parabolic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of parabolic

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for parabolic

in sense 1, from Late Latin parabola parable; in sense 2, from New Latin parabola

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about parabolic

Listen to Our Podcast about parabolic

Statistics for parabolic

Last Updated

29 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for parabolic

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

See more words from the same century

More from Merriam-Webster on parabolic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with parabolic

Comments on parabolic

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!