parallel

1 of 4

adjective

par·​al·​lel ˈper-ə-ˌlel How to pronounce parallel (audio)
ˈpa-rə-,
-ləl
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
3
a
: similar, analogous, or interdependent in tendency or development : exhibiting parallelism in form, function, or development
… the standing committee systems in the two Houses are reasonably parallelHarold Zink
parallel strikes on the railroads, in the gas and electricity services and in the metal and mining industries.Percy Winner
see also parallel evolution
b
: readily compared : companion
the marriage rate turned upward … the birth rate entered upon a parallel climbOscar 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

2 of 4

noun

1
a
: 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
2
a
: something equal or similar in all essential particulars : counterpart
3
: a comparison to show resemblance
4
a
: 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

parallel

3 of 4

verb

paralleled; paralleling; parallels

transitive verb

1
: to indicate analogy of : compare
2
a
: 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

4 of 4

adverb

: in a parallel manner
Phrases
in parallel
: in a parallel arrangement
Choose the Right Synonym for parallel

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Unless the director steps up like this May 14, 2021 King and Malcolm X’s stories are told on parallel tracks. Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times, 22 Feb. 2024 The two men, who are currently in federal lock-up in Miami as part of a parallel U.S. investigation, turned themselves into Charles hours after the killing amid a police standoff. Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, 22 Feb. 2024 So it is easily affected by external shocks such as the parallel foreign exchange market that determines the price of goods and services. Chinedu Asadu, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 Feb. 2024 The shadow fleet has enabled Russia to create a parallel shipping structure that can weather the changing tactics and focus of Western sanctions, with hundreds of tankers of opaque ownership, using complex routes. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, 19 Feb. 2024 This philosophy, of course, runs entirely counter to the parallel economy movement, one based on a strict alignment of values between customer and brand. Miles Klee, Rolling Stone, 17 Feb. 2024 The road runs parallel to the interstate south of I-77 Cornelius Exit 28. Joe Marusak, Charlotte Observer, 17 Feb. 2024 Venice Beach is best known for its bohemian vibes, tattoo parlors, skateboarders, and local hippies selling all sorts of crafts along the promenade, which runs directly parallel to the beach. Adeline Duff, Travel + Leisure, 12 Feb. 2024 Suddenly, the 243 passengers of Flight 006 have to reckon with confronting carbon copies of themselves, who have been leading parallel lives for the past three months. Aatish Taseer, New York Times, 12 Feb. 2024
Noun
Khare told the Security Council on Tuesday that the personnel departures took place in parallel to the closure and handover of the former mission headquarters and 13 team sites to local authorities in Darfur for civilian use. Orange County Register, 25 Feb. 2024 To spend time at Freedom Home is to sense a parallel. John Leland, New York Times, 23 Feb. 2024 In parallel, data science has become an exclusive, niche domain. Nitin Rakesh, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 Among his other work, Akala also launched The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company, a music theater production company aimed at exploring the social, cultural and linguistic parallels between the works of William Shakespeare and that of modern-day hip-hop artists. Georg Szalai, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Feb. 2024 As the death toll continues to rise, with nearly 30,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza — a region governed by Hamas since 2006 — many attendees are drawing parallels with Russia’s war in Ukraine. Ed Meza, Variety, 16 Feb. 2024 And however deliberately Brown draws them out, there are uncanny parallels between these two lives lived 1,500 years apart. Josephine Quinn, The New York Review of Books, 15 Feb. 2024 And Bishop Dolan thinks there are parallels between the two days. Jose R. Gonzalez, The Arizona Republic, 14 Feb. 2024 Stephens also saw parallels with the companies: a similar ethos focused on maintaining a lean staff, running efficient operations, and improving both the oil business and the wider Midland community. Devon Pendleton, Fortune, 12 Feb. 2024
Verb
The city closed parts of the pedestrian trail that parallels the tracks about a week earlier, after movement was detected in the hillside. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Feb. 2024 The Mideast today frighteningly parallels Europe in 1914. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, 7 Jan. 2024 There was only one significant difference between made and missed free throw shots: positioning the forearm almost parallel with an imaginary lateral axis. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 1 Jan. 2024 In the closing minutes of the interview — which remained amiable for its hour and 15-minute run time — Noah made a friendly but pointed observation that Altman’s firing paralleled the job losses a lot of people fear his technology will bring about at a societal scale. Brian Contreras, Los Angeles Times, 7 Dec. 2023 Less investment means less growth as shown in the next chart: For net investment after depreciation, the decline in growth parallels the decline in investment. Douglas Carr, National Review, 7 Feb. 2024 This outdated patriarchy machismo parallels the Oscars, where Barbie and Gretta Gerwig were snubbed nominations. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, 3 Feb. 2024 That parallels the trend indoors — both in furnishings and in the kitchen. Elaine Markoutsas, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 The goal with Gravy was to create a timeless album, and much like food, the richness of gravy parallels the depth in music, where every note contributes to the overall harmony. Shelby Stewart, Essence, 24 Jan. 2024
Adverb
Pull up parallel to the lead vehicle until your rear bumpers align. Robert Klose, The Christian Science Monitor, 11 July 2022 And while his career wouldn't quite live up to its early promise, if Saka's goes on to run parallel then few at the Emirates will be complaining. SI.com, 23 Sep. 2019 Let your upper arm go parallel to the ground before returning to the starting position. Ajc Homepage, ajc, 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, 31 July 2017 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Adjective

circa 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

Time Traveler
The first known use of parallel was circa 1550

Dictionary Entries Near parallel

Cite this Entry

“Parallel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/parallel. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

parallel

1 of 4 adjective
par·​al·​lel ˈpar-ə-ˌlel How to pronounce parallel (audio)
1
: lying or moving in the same direction but always the same distance apart
parallel lines
the train tracks are parallel
2
a
: being or relating to an electrical circuit having a number of conductors in parallel
b
: being or relating to a connection in a computer system in which the bits of a byte are transmitted over separate wires at the same time
3
: like entry 3, similar
parallel situations

parallel

2 of 4 noun
1
: a parallel line, curve, or surface
2
a
: one of the imaginary circles on the surface of the earth parallel to the equator that mark latitude
b
: a corresponding line on a globe or map
3
a
: counterpart sense 1, equal
a victory without parallel
c
: a tracing of similarity
draw a parallel between two periods of history
4
: an arrangement of electrical devices in a circuit in which the same potential difference is applied to two or more resistances with each resistance on a parallel branch

parallel

3 of 4 verb
1
: to be like or equal to
2
: to lie, run, or move in a direction parallel to
the highway parallels the river

parallel

4 of 4 adverb
: in a parallel manner
often used with with or to

More from Merriam-Webster on parallel

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