Things that don't follow a straight or logical path are nonlinear. In books and movies, a nonlinear narrative jumps around in time, rather than moving forward chronologically.

The word nonlinear means "not like a line," from the Latin linea, "string or line." Use this adjective to describe things that veer off the straight and narrow, or for situations in which one event doesn't clearly follow another. If you tell your friend the long story of how you first got your dog, interspersing the tale with details of the dream you had last night, that's a good example of a nonlinear narrative.

Definitions of nonlinear
  1. adjective
    designating or involving an equation whose terms are not of the first degree
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    additive, linear
    designating or involving an equation whose terms are of the first degree
    linear with respect to each of two variables or positions
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  2. adjective
    not arranged in or relating to a straight line
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    arranged in a line
    linear, one-dimensional
    of or in or along or relating to a line; involving a single dimension
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  3. adjective
    not arranged or expressed in a sequential or straightforward way
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    progressing from one stage or idea to the next in sequential order
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DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘nonlinear'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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