Something that's oblate is rounded, but instead of being a perfect sphere, it's flattened slightly on the top and bottom. Although we imagine the Earth to be shaped like a basketball, it's actually slightly oblate.

In the case of our oblate home planet, its poles are a bit flat because of the effects of gravity as it rotates. To get a good mental image of an oblate shape, picture a lentil — while a pea is spherical, a lentil looks like it's been squashed flat. The opposite of oblate is prolate, like an American football. Though it shares a Latin root with the adjective, the noun version of oblate has a completely different meaning, "dedicated religious person."

Definitions of oblate
  1. adjective
    having the equatorial diameter greater than the polar diameter; being flattened at the poles
    synonyms: pumpkin-shaped
    curving and somewhat round in shape rather than jagged
    see moresee less
    prolate, watermelon-shaped
    having the polar diameter greater than the equatorial diameter
    curving and somewhat round in shape rather than jagged
    shaped like a cucumber
    show more antonyms...
  2. noun
    a lay person dedicated to religious work or the religious life
    see moresee less
    type of:
    religious person
    a person who manifests devotion to a deity
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week