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

Imagine trying to parallel park with no lines to designate the space while the pavement slides around in random directions, including up and down. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "Self-Docking Boats Are Coming Soon," 15 Mar. 2019 Photo: Getty Images Investigators hadn’t made any link between the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes, with parallel investigations under way. Andy Pasztor, WSJ, "The FAA Has No Current Plans to Ground Boeing’s 737 MAX After Deadly Crash," 11 Mar. 2019 That’s one of the key questions the special counsel investigation — and the parallel congressional investigations — has been trying to answer. Alex Ward, Vox, "Trump Tower Moscow, and Michael Cohen’s lies about it, explained," 29 Nov. 2018 The opposition’s parallel government filed papers Friday urging the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to support the Trump administration’s push for regime change in Venezuela by pausing a $1.4 billion debt-collection lawsuit. ... Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Venezuelan Opposition Seeks U.S. Court’s Help Protecting Citgo," 4 Mar. 2019 In addition to the romances, another parallel element in the story has to do with Hiccup and Toothless each maturing into leadership roles. Soren Andersen, The Seattle Times, "‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’: Third film soars with extraordinary visuals," 20 Feb. 2019 It's quickly divided into two streams; having two parallel tracks allows the facility to continue operating even if key pieces of hardware are down for maintenance, Quinn told Ars. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Bikes, bowling balls, and the delicate balancing act that is modern recycling," 31 Dec. 2018 The nucleotides that comprise DNA (A,T, C, and G) are flat molecules, and they're stacked parallel to each other along the DNA helix. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Bacteria engage in chemical warfare against viruses," 5 Dec. 2018 Two main thoroughfares, including Quay Street and a large public walkway, will run parallel to each other and the Lake Ontario waterfront. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Sidewalk Labs’s updated smart city plan aims for ‘people-first public realm’," 30 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The closest parallel to Midge was probably Jean Carroll, a Jewish singer-comic who was slender and elegant, wore tight dresses and pearls, and offered up observational humor about her life. Marjorie Ingall, Town & Country, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," 4 Dec. 2018 While Wilhelm’s militarism and bellicosity aren’t defensible, any parallels to Donald Trump have to be limited to behavioral flaws: emotional, prone to anger, sometimes rash and perhaps even a little immature. WSJ, "Comparison Unfair to Wilhelm II and Trump," 11 Nov. 2018 Running parallel to Michael’s latest rampage through teenage suburbia is the story of Laurie Strode: Doomsday Prepper. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The new Halloween reimagines the franchise as a tale of maternal warrior women," 19 Oct. 2018 The case has parallels to that in neighboring Chile, where Francis repeatedly defended a bishop accused of covering up for the country's most notorious predator, the Rev. Fernando Karadima. Fox News, "Pope role in study of Argentine sex abuse case in spotlight," 18 Sep. 2018 And this part, there’s a rough parallel to the web, right? Recode Staff, Recode, "Podcaster Manoush Zomorodi explains blockchain and how it might fix the media," 17 July 2018 The nearest parallel to Jordan's situation may be that of Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.). Amber Phillips, Washington Post, "Just how much trouble is Jim Jordan in over alleged Ohio State sexual abuse?," 9 July 2018 Another coaster with parallels to Slinky Dog Dash is Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens, also a family coaster. Marjie Lambert, miamiherald, "Who are the real brains behind Disney's Toy Story Land? Not Buzz Lightyear," 29 June 2018 Many people have pointed as a possible parallel to Richard Nixon's 1972 trip to China and his meeting with Chinese leader Mao Zedong, which produced a thaw between the two nations after two decades of hostile relations. Author: Dan Balz, Anchorage Daily News, "Analysis: Summit’s outcome rests on substance, not symbolism," 12 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Simply delivering recyclables to a sorting facility requires a transport infrastructure that completely parallels one that handles non-recyclable trash. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Bikes, bowling balls, and the delicate balancing act that is modern recycling," 31 Dec. 2018 The rise in popularity of supercars worldwide has been paralleled by explosive growth in international GT3 class sportscar racing. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Open mind, wide open throttle: We go to our first NASCAR race," 15 Nov. 2018 Many of the worst features or the worst human harms inflicted by monotheism have been paralleled in the secular religions of modern times. Sean Illing, Vox, "Why science can’t replace religion," 4 Nov. 2018 Audio has paralleled Sony’s highs and lows through its 72-year history. Takashi Mochizuki, WSJ, "Sony, Home of the Walkman, Wants Its Status Back in Headphones," 28 Oct. 2018 Those temperatures were part of a 30-year trend of increasing heat that has more or less paralleled a precipitous decline in monarch populations. Joe Trezza, Washington Post, "Monarch butterfly migration was off this year and researchers are worried," 20 Jan. 2018 And, like tennis, the primary competitor in golf is myself, which parallels life. Jen Murphy, WSJ, "A Golf Obsession With Balance at the Core," 22 Sep. 2018 Paleobiology’s success has paralleled the advent of computing and the internet, and would seem like an obvious example of the determining impact of technology on science. David Sepkoski, The Atlantic, "19th-Century Paleontology Was at the Forefront of Big Data," 14 Feb. 2018 In the previous months, there had been construction along the track bed, which parallels Blair Road, up an embankment. John Kelly, Washington Post, "All aboard as Answer Man revisits the day in 1976 a train derailed in Takoma," 6 Jan. 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

22 Mar 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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