Share this entry

linear Syllabification: lin·e·ar
Pronunciation: /ˈlinēər/

Definition of linear in English:


1Arranged in or extending along a straight or nearly straight line: linear arrangements linear in shape linear movement
More example sentences
  • The result is that all the proteins being tested have nearly the same extended linear shape.
  • A ‘two-stepper’ motor, one for linear motion along a straight line, and the other for turning, provide the robot with efficient mobility.
  • We also accomplished the extraction of unidirectional movement from the bidirectional movements along the linear tracks by adding arrowhead patterns on the tracks.
straight, direct, undeviating, as straight as an arrow;
1.1Consisting of or predominantly formed using lines or outlines: simple linear designs
More example sentences
  • Familiar national outlines disappear as a linear design emerges that suggests the skeletal remains of some ancient mammal.
  • Despite what has been said so far about the use of the camera to make drawings, it is curiously an absence of linear outline in Vermeer's finished work to which Gowing points.
  • During the 1940s and 1950s his sculpture was predominantly open and linear, like three-dimensional metal calligraphy.
1.2Involving one dimension only: linear elasticity
More example sentences
  • We're currently shrinking the size of technology by a factor of 5.6 per linear dimension per decade, so it is conservative to say that this scenario will be feasible in a few decades.
  • Additionally, for animals with large muscle area, linear muscle dimensions may be used to decrease prediction error associated with a single area measurement alone.
  • Evidence that animals can monitor the linear dimensions of their organs comes from organisms with either less or more than the diploid number of chromosomes - that is haploid and polyploid organisms.
1.3 Mathematics Able to be represented by a straight line on a graph; involving or exhibiting directly proportional change in two related quantities: linear functions linear relationship
More example sentences
  • Consider first the simple example of a random walk on a 3-point linear graph.
  • No cryptographic algorithm should be a linear function.
  • Showing them that a line can represent a linear mathematical equation graphically.
2Progressing from one stage to another in a single series of steps; sequential: a linear narrative
More example sentences
  • Quantitative research can be characterized as a linear series of steps moving from theory to conclusions.
  • No wonder some critics think that Shanghaiese are not ready to see a Pina Bausch show because they have not surpassed the stage of merely appreciating linear narrative.
  • Of course, if this is not to your taste the book could simply be read conventionally as a single linear narrative.


Mid 17th century: from Latin linearis, from linea 'a line' (see line1).



Pronunciation: /ˌlinēˈerədē/
Example sentences
  • While certain books may gesture towards rhizomatic connectivity, the physical form of the book imposes a certain linearity on the reading experience.
  • The linearity of the creative process is dominant here.
  • In a random world, the linearity of games is a wonderful solace.


Example sentences
  • The good times are invariably extrapolated linearly into the future.
  • A gyroscope is a wheel or disc mounted in such a way that it is free to rotate around an axis as well as to move linearly along the other two axes.
  • The puzzles are better signposted than in Mario 64, and the game leads you through the plot a bit more linearly.

Words that rhyme with linear

Abyssinia, Bithynia, curvilinear, Gdynia, gloxinia, interlinear, Lavinia, rectilinear, Sardinia, triclinia, Virginia, zinnia

Definition of linear in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day haughty
Pronunciation: ˈhɔːti
arrogantly superior and disdainful