rec·​ti·​lin·​e·​ar ˌrek-tə-ˈli-nē-ər How to pronounce rectilinear (audio)
: moving in or forming a straight line
rectilinear motion
: characterized by straight lines
the rectilinear skyline of a modern city
rectilinearity noun
rectilinearly adverb

Examples of rectilinear in a Sentence

the rectilinear skyline of a modern city
Recent Examples on the Web Seemingly hauled up en masse, the forms are wired together and slapped onto a rectilinear steel support, like writhing refugees from a maritime disaster. Julia Couzens, Sacramento Bee, 30 Jan. 2024 While extensive research has delved into serpentine locomotion, there remains a gap in exploring rectilinear locomotion as a robotic solution for navigating through narrow spaces. IEEE Spectrum, 19 Jan. 2024 Manhattan’s rectilinear street grid doesn’t lend itself easily to view cones. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, 25 Oct. 2023 The picture’s minimalism, its rectilinear purity, sets off the sumptuous curves of the sitter’s body, the curved back of the chair and the shawl draped over it. Washington Post, 12 Oct. 2023 There were also clear signs of new construction on some hillsides: massive rectilinear concrete frames and huge earth-moving machinery. Nick Romeo, The New Republic, 23 Aug. 2023 Constitution Gardens was intended as a pastoral respite from the formality of the more rectilinear Mall, on land that was until 1971 occupied by temporary buildings that served the military during World Wars I and II. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 19 Aug. 2023 Here, the kitchen features a clean, rectilinear design scheme, consisting of a wall of white cabinetry and white backsplash tiling with black grouting, all of which is offset against the grey-colored countertop and open wooden shelving. Kimberley Mok, Treehugger, 19 July 2023 Volvo designers took the opportunity to incorporate more youthful flourishes in the cabin of the Plus trim, such as the textured metallic trim in place of traditional wood inlays and rectilinear vents with floating chrome adjusters. Jonathon Ramsey, Car and Driver, 27 June 2023

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

Word History


Late Latin rectilineus, from Latin rectus + linea line

First Known Use

1651, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of rectilinear was in 1651


Dictionary Entries Near rectilinear

Cite this Entry

“Rectilinear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

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