parallel

adjective
par·​al·​lel | \ ˈper-ə-ˌlel, ˈpa-rə-, -ləl\

Definition of parallel

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : extending in the same direction, everywhere equidistant (see equidistant sense 1), and not meeting parallel rows of trees
b : everywhere equally distant concentric spheres are parallel
2a : having parallel sides a parallel reamer
b : being or relating to an electrical circuit having a number of conductors (see conductor sense d(1)) in parallel (see parallel entry 2 sense 4b)
c : arranged in parallel a computer with four parallel processors
d : relating to or being a connection in a computer system in which the bits of a byte are transmitted over separate channels at the same time a parallel port — compare serial
3a(1) : similar, analogous, or interdependent in tendency or development
(2) : exhibiting parallelism in form, function, or development parallel evolution
b : readily compared : companion the marriage rate turned upward … the birth rate entered upon a parallel climb— Oscar Handlin
c : having identical syntactical elements in corresponding positions also : being such an element
d(1) : having the same tonic used of major and minor keys and scales
(2) : keeping the same distance apart in musical pitch (see pitch entry 4 sense 4b(1))
4 : performed while keeping one's skis parallel parallel turns

parallel

noun

Definition of parallel (Entry 2 of 4)

1a : a parallel line, curve, or surface
b : one of the imaginary circles on the surface of the earth paralleling the equator and marking the latitude also : the corresponding line on a globe or map — see latitude illustration
c : a character ∥ used in printing especially as a reference mark
2a : something equal or similar in all essential particulars : counterpart
3 : a comparison to show resemblance
4a : the state of being physically parallel
b : an arrangement of electrical devices in a circuit in which the same potential difference is applied to two or more resistances with each resistance being on a different branch of the circuit — compare series
c : an arrangement or state that permits several operations or tasks to be performed simultaneously rather than consecutively
in parallel
: in a parallel arrangement

parallel

verb
paralleled; paralleling; parallels

Definition of parallel (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to indicate analogy of : compare
2a : to show something equal to : match
b : to correspond to
3 : to place so as to be parallel in direction with something
4 : to extend, run, or move in a direction parallel to

parallel

adverb

Definition of parallel (Entry 4 of 4)

: in a parallel manner

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Choose the Right Synonym for parallel

Adjective

similar, analogous, parallel mean closely resembling each other. similar implies the possibility of being mistaken for each other. all the houses in the development are similar analogous applies to things belonging in essentially different categories but nevertheless having many similarities. analogous political systems parallel suggests a marked likeness in the development of two things. the parallel careers of two movie stars

Examples of parallel in a Sentence

Adjective

the parallel careers of the two movie stars These two sentences are parallel in structure. Notice the parallel development of the two technologies.

Noun

These myths have some striking parallels with myths found in cultures around the world. There are many parallels between the stories. Most of the United States is south of the 49th parallel.

Verb

Their test results parallel our own. Rising prices parallel increasing fuel costs. Spending is paralleled by an increase in the number of loans given. The highway parallels the river.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In theaters Saturday, January 5 Annihilation: Natalie Portman and Gina Rodriguez star in this gripping thriller about a group of female scientists who investigate a parallel universe called The Shimmer. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "9 TV Shows and Movies to Watch to Kick Off 2019," 30 Dec. 2018 But when Deja tracks down her biological father, a parallel does end up arising between she and Randall. Emma Dibdin, Country Living, "6 Things You Missed From the 'This Is Us' Season 3 Premiere," 26 Sep. 2018 Battery cells can either be connected together in series or in parallel; cells in series have much higher voltage and power, while cells connected in parallel have a higher capacity and are able to deliver more power over a longer period of time. Loren Grush, The Verge, "NASA is prepared if a battery ever explodes in space," 17 Aug. 2018 While you’re at it, swing the dugouts out parallel with the foul lines. Scott Ostler, SFChronicle.com, "A’s are different kind of warriors: drawing fans against the odds," 17 June 2018 Yet in a parallel to their American cousins in 2016, Italy’s Democrats failed to persuade voters to give them five more years. Jonah Shepp, Daily Intelligencer, "Italy’s Election Shows European Populism Isn’t Dead Yet," 7 Mar. 2018 Gaming is an extremely social activity, and that applies even to single-player games, where sharing parallel, contemporary play experiences with others can be a huge part of the appeal. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Observations and lessons from two decades of writing about video games," 25 Nov. 2018 No worries, just cut onions into 3/4-inch thick slices, arrange in two parallel rows and place the bird on top. Susan Westmoreland, Good Housekeeping, "The 8 Biggest Mistakes You Make When Cooking a Turkey," 19 Nov. 2018 The residence comprises two long, parallel volumes, with one housing the basic amenities for living and the other acting as a more fluid space that opens up to the street. Alex Bazeley, Curbed, "This house in Tokyo brings the street inside—literally," 14 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Ifill draws parallels to the 1958 Supreme Court Case NAACP v. Alabama. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Facial recognition is becoming one of the 21st century’s biggest public space issues," 19 Oct. 2018 Training a network of that size required massive computing power, and AlexNet was designed to take advantage of the massive parallel computing power provided by modern GPUs. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "How computers got shockingly good at recognizing images," 18 Dec. 2018 These are support networks with obvious parallels in traditional entertainment, where major stars might employ entourages including everything from a hairstylist to a cook to a lawyer. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Meet the babysitter who helps Logan Paul stay out of trouble on YouTube," 3 Dec. 2018 While past presidents have had difficult foreign trips and been criticized for their summits with Soviet leaders, Trump’s behavior has few parallels, in the view of presidential historians and longtime Russia watchers. Jill Colvin, The Seattle Times, "Tumult of Trump’s Europe trip smashes presidential precedent," 17 July 2018 In a parallel, possibly contemporaneous universe to ours, weather events are inextricably linked to human moods and feelings. Dmitry Samarov, Chicago Reader, "Tiresias Was a Weatherman is an Antigone for our age of extreme weather and constant medication," 8 June 2018 Or think about the parallels between Meghan and Stacy? Alyse Whitney, Glamour, "Vanessa Hudgens Watched the Royal Wedding To Get Into Character for The Princess Switch," 21 Nov. 2018 Riot Games could be a particularly apt parallel here: Tencent was first an investor in Riot, and Tencent has also invested in several of Discord’s financing rounds dating back to 2014. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Who could buy Discord? Acquirers have been giving the gaming startup a long look.," 21 Nov. 2018 There are about 20 feet of air between the ground and the top of the pilings holding up a new two-story house on the island’s main drag, running parallel to the Gulf of Mexico. Nate Berg, Curbed, "Can engineering save Louisiana’s coastline?," 7 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

There was the 2010 Lincoln MKT that could parallel park itself, the Volvo XC90 that could handle speed and steering in stop-and-go traffic, and the Cadillac SuperCruise hands-free highway system. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "With 'Navigate on Autopilot,' a Tesla Can Take a Highway Exit All by Itself," 3 Dec. 2018 The revival of Shan’s career in the early 1980s and his subsequent rise to national prominence paralleled the re-emergence of the pingshu tradition. Amy Qin, The Seattle Times, "Shan Tianfang, a superstar of Chinese storytelling, dies at 83," 17 Sep. 2018 Perhaps best of all, the boardwalk offers an incredible view of the bay, Bahía de Banderas, which also offers up views of the sunsets that parallel those seen in old-Hollywood movies. Alex Vros, Fox News, "Puerto Vallarta: How this popular Hollywood haunt became a world-class getaway," 19 July 2018 Many of the maneuvers parallel those used in other cases. Jonathan Lai, Philly.com, "Pennsylvania's congressional map fight reveals a deeper national redistricting battle," 8 Mar. 2018 Deja’s visit to her biological father parallels Randall’s visit to William in the pilot episode. Emma Dibdin, Country Living, "6 Things You Missed From the 'This Is Us' Season 3 Premiere," 26 Sep. 2018 The trail follows an old wagon road paralleling the creek. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "10 best hikes in Arizona show off state's diverse scenery," 13 July 2018 The exodus of the migrants is something paralleling Syria at this stage. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: A tale of two elections," 22 May 2018 Stainless Steel The composition of knives parallels the history of metallurgy: copper, bronze, iron, steel. Francine Maroukian, Popular Mechanics, "How To Buy Kitchen Knives Like a Pro," 24 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Let your upper arm go parallel to the ground before returning to the starting position. Ajc Homepage, ajc, "Try these 5 workouts for a better bust line," 16 Aug. 2017 Power generated at the San Vicente facility could be delivered via electrical lines parallel and interconnected to San Diego Gas & Electric’s Sunrise Power Link. Rob Nikolewski, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Pump it up: Water officials looking for offers to build a hydro storage plant at the San Vicente Reservoir," 31 July 2017

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

Adjective

1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1551, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

circa 1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

1646, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for parallel

Adjective, Noun, Verb, and Adverb

Latin parallelus, from Greek parallēlos, from para beside + allēlōn of one another, from allos … allos one … another, from allos other — more at else

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Statistics for parallel

Last Updated

11 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for parallel

The first known use of parallel was in 1550

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More Definitions for parallel

parallel

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of parallel

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: very similar and often happening at the same time

computers : designed for a computer system in which very small pieces of information are sent over separate wires at the same time

parallel

noun

English Language Learners Definition of parallel (Entry 2 of 3)

: a way in which things are similar : a shared quality or characteristic

: something that is equal or similar

: any one of the imaginary circles on the surface of the Earth that are parallel to the equator and that are shown as lines on maps

parallel

verb

English Language Learners Definition of parallel (Entry 3 of 3)

: to be similar or equal to (something)

: to happen at the same time as (something) and in a way that is related or connected

: to be parallel to (something) : to go or extend in the same direction as (something)

parallel

adjective
par·​al·​lel | \ ˈper-ə-ˌlel \

Kids Definition of parallel

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: lying or moving in the same direction but always the same distance apart parallel lines Train tracks are parallel.

parallel

noun

Kids Definition of parallel (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a line or surface that lies at or moves in the same direction as another but is always the same distance from it
2 : one of the imaginary circles on the earth's surface running in the same direction as the equator and marking latitude
3 : a way in which things are similar The parallel between their lives is obvious.
4 : equal entry 3 It is a masterpiece without parallel.

parallel

verb
paralleled; paralleling

Kids Definition of parallel (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : to move, run, or extend in the same direction with but always at the same distance from A road parallels the river.
2 : to be similar or equal to

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More from Merriam-Webster on parallel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with parallel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for parallel

Spanish Central: Translation of parallel

Nglish: Translation of parallel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of parallel for Arabic Speakers

Comments on parallel

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