Definition of parallel in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈparəlɛl/


1(Of lines, planes, or surfaces) side by side and having the same distance continuously between them: parallel lines never meet the road runs parallel to the Ottawa River
More example sentences
  • The parabola results when the plane is parallel to a generating line of the cone.
  • The lines midway between parallel sides of the hexagon also form a triangle.
  • In the other case, the sides of the hexagon are parallel to the sides of the given triangle.
side by side, aligned, collateral, equidistant
2Occurring or existing at the same time or in a similar way; corresponding: a parallel universe they shared a flat in London while establishing parallel careers
More example sentences
  • Although once synonymous with the German New Wave of the early 1970s, Wenders has enjoyed a long parallel career in American cinema and divided his time between Berlin and Hollywood.
  • Lovecraft based a parallel Massachusetts on the existing one.
  • The phasic and tonic crayfish claw closer neurons have similar sized somata and parallel dendritic branching.
similar, analogous, comparable, corresponding, like, resembling, much the same, of a kind, akin, related, kindred, equivalent, correspondent, homologous, analogical, cognate, coequal, matching, duplicate
coexisting, coexistent, concurrent;
contemporaneous, simultaneous, synchronous
3Of or denoting electrical components or circuits connected to common points at each end, rather than one to another in sequence. The opposite of series.
Example sentences
  • I then went ahead and plugged in all the motherboard connectors such as the power switch, reset switch, etc. and then plugged in all the molex and parallel connectors.
  • More importantly, parallel connections become far less efficient as traffic rates increase, making serial connections more scalable.
  • Programming the ButtonBox requires constructing a special parallel cable to connect to it, and then running the programming software.
4 Computing Involving the simultaneous performance of operations: highly parallel multiprocessor systems
More example sentences
  • This can mean one thread running from an application and a second thread running from an operating system, or parallel threads running from within a single application.
  • A parallel data processing system is provided for increasing the program execution rate of a target machine.
  • An array of qubits operates as a parallel computer capable of performing a large calculation in one step, and the power grows rapidly with the number of qubits.


1A person or thing that is similar or analogous to another: a challenge which has no parallel in peacetime this century
More example sentences
  • As this booklet pointed out, the position of the princes in the Indian polity ‘afforded no parallel to or analogy with any institution known in history’.
  • Pushkin is personally present in Russian culture in a way that has no parallel, for instance, in the posthumous lives of Shakespeare, Dante, or Goethe.
  • When the Soviet Union collapsed and the cold war ended, the United States was left in a position of global privilege, prestige and might that had no parallel in history.
counterpart, analogue, equivalent, likeness, correspondent, match, twin, duplicate, equal, coequal, mirror
rare homologue
1.1A similarity or comparison: she draws a parallel between personal destiny and social forces
More example sentences
  • Science Friction also draws a parallel between the biogenetic pursuit of outward, bodily perfection and the religious pursuit of inner perfection of the soul through devotion to God and prayer.
  • He tells of his arrival in Rome as a foreigner and his struggle to learn Latin, and then draws a parallel between his linguistic difficulties and the subject of his story, his transformation.
  • Lawrence Rhodes, director of the Juilliard School's Dance Division, draws a parallel between the teaching of choreography and the teaching of dance.
similarity, likeness, resemblance, analogy, correspondence, equivalence, correlation;
comparison, relation, symmetry, parity, parallelism, similitude, coequality
2 (also parallel of latitude) Each of the imaginary parallel circles of constant latitude on the earth’s surface.
Example sentences
  • Central Australia was a formally separate entity from the rest of the Territory, marked by the twentieth parallel of latitude.
  • Canada Canada is the world's second largest country, with an area of 9971500 km 2, most of it being north of the 49th parallel of latitude and extending to the high Arctic.
  • North and South Korea are working on projects to fully connect two sets of railways across the demilitarized zone that separates the Korean Peninsula at the 38th parallel.
3 Printing Two parallel lines (‖) as a reference mark.

verb (parallels, paralleling, paralleled)

[with object]
1Be side by side with (something extending in a line), always keeping the same distance; run or lie parallel to: a big concrete gutter that paralleled the road
More example sentences
  • Access is from the road that parallels the east side of Winnemucca Dry Lake.
  • It looked like there was a convergence line ahead paralleling highway 33 on the west side.
  • For half an hour there were no cars as we accelerated, paralleling the line of the river through fields of rich soil resized to prairie proportions.
2Be similar or corresponding to: the increase in the quality of wines has paralleled the rise of interest in food
More example sentences
  • As quite a few theorists about conspiracy theory have pointed out, the rise of conspiracy theories parallels the rise of the internet.
  • A variety of companies are now making personal-care products based on more natural, and often organic, ingredients, paralleling the rise of the natural foods movement.
  • This rise in discharge rate with hypercapnia paralleled the rise in iEMG activity.
resemble, be similar to, be like, bear a resemblance to;
correspond to, be analogous to, be comparable/equivalent to, compare with, equate with/to, correlate with, imitate, echo, remind one of, duplicate, mirror, repeat, recreate, follow, match, be in harmony with, chime (in) with;
coincide with, keep pace with
equal, match, rival, emulate, touch


in parallel

Occurring at the same time and having some connection: various elements of the booster station have been developed in parallel
More example sentences
  • Thus, it seems that an altered respiratory function develops in parallel with duration of cold exposure.
  • It can more easily afford to develop next-generation plant in parallel with older lines.
  • There are a number of special insights developed in parallel to the main analysis.
1.1(Of electrical components or circuits) connected to common points at each end; not in series.
Example sentences
  • We wired a small electric light in parallel with the circuit to the engine heater.
  • Three thermocouples were connected in parallel to give a mean output.
  • Here, though, the turbochargers work in series rather than in parallel: a small one close to the engine, a bigger one downstream.


Mid 16th century: from French parallèle, via Latin from Greek parallēlos, from para- 'alongside' + allēlos 'one another'.

  • Parallel goes back to Greek parallēlos, from para- ‘alongside’ and allēlos ‘one another’.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: par¦al|lel

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.