Definition of non-linear in English:

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Pronunciation: /nɒnˈlɪnɪə/


1Not arranged in a straight line.
1.1 Mathematics Denoting or involving an equation whose terms are not of the first degree.
Example sentences
  • Norman decided to shift his field from gap and density theorems to non-linear differential equations, both ordinary and partial.
  • The non-linear differential equation describing the growth of a biological population which he deduced and studied is now named after him.
  • It was then that he became aware of the mysteries underlying the subject of non-linear partial differential equations.
1.2 Physics Involving a lack of linearity between two related qualities such as input and output: a non-linear network
More example sentences
  • If matter is present where the photons cross, non-linear effects caused by accelerated electric charges may allow the photons to interact.
  • Other non-linear factors also contribute to increase the resulting gain disparity between wavelengths.
  • It will build on Hull's existing expertise in linear and non-linear acoustical properties of materials, aspects of outdoor acoustics and in silencer design and combustion noise.
1.3 Mathematics Involving measurement in more than one dimension.
2Not sequential or straightforward: Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness, non-linear narrative
More example sentences
  • Unfortunately, the film itself was a bit slow-paced and difficult to follow, with a non-linear narrative structure.
  • Will UK readers cope with the experimental, non-linear narrative structure?
  • Sometimes these are the visual equivalent of a non-linear narrative.
3Of or denoting digital editing whereby a sequence of edits is stored on computer as opposed to videotape.
Example sentences
  • And you will need a three machine edit suite or a non-linear computer editing system to achieve this.
  • The videotapes were digitized, and processed through a computer based non-linear video editing system.
  • For editing non-linear computer editing is the only way to go.


go non-linear

informal Become very excited or angry, especially about a particular obsession: don’t mention the drug problem or he’ll go non-linear for hours



Example sentences
  • The idea of the loop brings to mind repetition, non-linearity and circular motion.
  • Yet true to chaos theory, the appearance of non-linearity does not necessarily imply a lack of coherent structures.
  • She gives her narrative an ending, but uses the text to explore ideas of movement, transformation and non-linearity.


Example sentences
  • The energy matrix that binds her cells together responds non-linearly to force.
  • Its main construct is that each panel portrays the exact same location and space at different, marked times, non-linearly.
  • As the number and types of storage devices continue to proliferate, the complexity of managing storage grows non-linearly.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: non-linear

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