parallel

adjective
par·​al·​lel | \ ˈper-ə-ˌlel How to pronounce parallel (audio) , 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

The bill runs largely in parallel to plans outlined last month by the Newsom administration. Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Wildfire liability bill zooms through California Senate," 9 July 2019 If possible, people should swim parallel to the shoreline or face the shore and call for help. Alexa Díaz, latimes.com, "Beachgoers beware: 4th of July to bring dangerous rip currents, threat of stingrays," 3 July 2019 At least nine teams have additional netting beyond the dugouts, with some extending to the areas where the outfield walls run parallel with the foul lines. David Barron, Houston Chronicle, "Attorney for family of child hit by foul ball at Astros game releases update," 26 June 2019 Armstrong flew the lander almost parallel to the surface, passing over a large crater and an unsuitable field of rubble before spotting a flat expanse of powder. Stephen Witt, WIRED, "Apollo 11: Mission Out of Control," 24 June 2019 The broad side of the building, its visitor center, would run parallel to Chicago Avenue and be set back from the street, providing room for a sloping lawn that would double as a gathering area. Blair Kamin, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Wright or wrong? A planned visitor center next to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio raises thorny issues," 21 June 2019 Armstrong took manual control, slowed the descent, and began flying the Eagle like a helicopter, almost parallel to the surface. The Washington Post, al.com, "How did NASA put men on the moon? One harrowing step at a time," 19 June 2019 Armstrong took manual control, slowed the descent, and began flying the Eagle like a helicopter, almost parallel to the surface. Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, "How did NASA put men on the moon? One harrowing step at a time.," 19 June 2019 So in parallel with that, Richardson, being a diligent lawyer and a believer in normal process, asked for an opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel as to this topic. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "“It’s High Time This Whole Matter Get Revisited”," 17 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Tveit has also drawn parallels with his own experience, likening Christian's bohemian immersion to his own experience of joining the national tour of Rent at age 20. Suzy Evans, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Moulin Rouge!' Stars Aaron Tveit and Karen Olivo Go Deeper and Darker on Stage," 1 July 2019 The Straight Pride Parade parallels similar calls by other majority groups that see themselves as persecuted. The Washington Post, The Denver Post, "It’s LGBT pride month, but three guys in Boston want a permit for a “Straight Pride” parade," 5 June 2019 The Straight Pride Parade parallels similar calls by other majority groups that see themselves as persecuted. oregonlive.com, "It’s LGBT pride month, but three guys in Boston want a permit for a ‘Straight Pride’ parade," 4 June 2019 The Straight Pride Parade parallels similar calls by other majority groups that see themselves as persecuted. Marisa Iati, Washington Post, "It’s LGBT pride month, but three guys in Boston want a permit for a ‘Straight Pride’ parade," 4 June 2019 Fans are, unsurprisingly, losing their minds over the whole thing: the sexiness, the parallels, the surprise twist ending. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "The Hidden Sweetness In Ariana Grande's Sexy 'Break Up With Your Girlfriend' Video," 8 Feb. 2019 That requires a parallel, identical apparatus for the electron to traverse. Quanta Magazine, "Why the Many-Worlds Interpretation Has Many Problems," 18 Oct. 2018 Later, the myth traveled through Africa and then across Europe, in parallel with the spread of livestock farming, morphing and speciating all the while. Ferris Jabr, Harper's magazine, "The Story of Storytelling," 10 Mar. 2019 The attempt to draw a parallel between Gaza’s suffering and the Holocaust was bound to draw angry reactions. Washington Post, "Palestinians killed in protest near Gaza-Israeli border," 8 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And in a 2008 case that parallels the Vilchez Lazo investigation, police in Southern California stopped a man for traffic violations and found his eyes were bloodshot and watery. Evan Sernoffsky, SFChronicle.com, "Attorney: DNA that solved infamous ‘Rideshare Rapist’ case illegally obtained by SF cops," 9 July 2019 The thing about hair removal is that unlike other normal rites of passage, such as riding a bike or learning how to parallel park, no one ever actually teaches you how to shave your legs. Deanna Pai, Glamour, "How to Shave Your Legs Perfectly," 30 June 2019 The entrance to the trails is a walk along a grassy path that parallels a hay field teeming with birds and butterflies. Peter Marteka, courant.com, "Hiking a ‘perfect place’ at North Branford’s Harrison Farm Preserve," 28 June 2019 The author was also famous for living a glamorous life that paralleled that of her characters. NBC News, "Steamy romance novelist Judith Krantz dies at 91," 23 June 2019 Lay the legs parallel on the ground, then insert the 2-inch segments [D] into each remaining opening of the top T-couplers [E]to make the monster’s shoulders. Connect the inside 2-inch pieces [D]with another T-coupler [E], with the stem pointing up. A.c. Shilton, Popular Mechanics, "This DIY Halloween Monster Is a Perfect Project That's Good To Make With Kids Too," 22 Oct. 2018 If, however, future experiments parallel the latest studies and confirm that an innate sense of rhythm does not depend on neural circuits unique to vocal learners, then how does the brain follow a beat? Quanta Magazine, "The Beasts That Keep the Beat," 22 Mar. 2016 Based in New York, Wu is best known for his ability to blur the lines between classic sportswear and elevated couture—a practice of indulgence and restraint that parallels the art of mid-century modern. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Best Room Wins," 30 May 2019 Trying to find the easy, simple past period that parallels our own is futile and frequently misguided. Zachary Karabell, WSJ, "The Trouble With Hitler Analogies," 30 Nov. 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

12 Jul 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 How to pronounce parallel (audio) \

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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