parallel

In math, parallel means two lines that never intersect––think of an equal sign. Figuratively, parallel means similar, or happening at the same time. A story might describe the parallel lives of three close friends.

Parallel is from Greek parallēlos, from the prefix para- "beside" plus allēlōn "of one another," from allos "other." As a noun, a parallel is a way in which things resemble each other––you might draw parallels between the Vietnam War and the US invasion of Iraq. In specialized use, a parallel can mean one of the imaginary circles on the surface of the Earth that are parallel to the equator––the 49th parallel divides the US and Canada.

Primary Meanings of parallel

1.
adjnv
being everywhere equidistant and not intersecting
(mathematics) one of a set of parallel geometric figures (parallel lines or planes)
be parallel to
2.
nadjv
something having the property of being analogous to something else
of or relating to the simultaneous performance of multiple operations
duplicate or match
Full Definitions of parallel
1

adj being everywhere equidistant and not intersecting

parallel lines never converge”
“concentric circles are parallel
“dancers in two parallel rows”
Synonyms:
comparable
able to be compared or worthy of comparison
antiparallel
(especially of vectors) parallel but oppositely directed
collateral
situated or running side by side
nonconvergent, nonintersecting
(of lines, planes, or surfaces) never meeting or crossing
symmetric, symmetrical
having similarity in size, shape, and relative position of corresponding parts
Antonyms:
oblique
slanting or inclined in direction or course or position--neither parallel nor perpendicular nor right-angled
perpendicular
intersecting at or forming right angles
convergent
tending to come together from different directions
divergent, diverging
tending to move apart in different directions
inclined
at an angle to the horizontal or vertical position
bias
slanting diagonally across the grain of a fabric
cata-cornered, catacorner, cater-cornered, catercorner, catty-corner, catty-cornered, kitty-corner, kitty-cornered
slanted across a polygon on a diagonal line
crabwise, sideways
(of movement) at an angle
diagonal
connecting two nonadjacent corners of a plane figure or any two corners of a solid that are not in the same face
nonparallel
(of e.g. lines or paths) not parallel; converging
oblique-angled
having oblique angles
normal
forming a right angle
orthogonal, rectangular
having a set of mutually perpendicular axes; meeting at right angles
right
having the axis perpendicular to the base
show more antonyms...

n (mathematics) one of a set of parallel geometric figures (parallel lines or planes)

parallels never meet”
Type of:
figure
a combination of points and lines and planes that form a visible palpable shape

n an imaginary line around the Earth parallel to the equator

Synonyms:
latitude, line of latitude, parallel of latitude
Examples:
show 4 examples...
hide 4 examples...
Antarctic Circle
a line of latitude north of the south pole
Arctic Circle
a line of latitude near but to the south of the north pole; it marks the northernmost point at which the sun is visible on the northern winter solstice and the southernmost point at which the midnight sun can be seen on the northern summer solstice
Tropic of Cancer
a line of latitude about 23 degrees to the north of the equator
Tropic of Capricorn
a line of latitude about 23 degrees to the south of the equator
Types:
polar circle
a line of latitude at the north or south poles
horse latitude
either of two belts or regions near 30 degrees north or 30 degrees south; characterized by calms and light-baffling winds
tropic
either of two parallels of latitude about 23.5 degrees to the north and south of the equator representing the points farthest north and south at which the sun can shine directly overhead and constituting the boundaries of the Torrid Zone or tropics
Type of:
line
a spatial location defined by a real or imaginary unidimensional extent

v be parallel to

“Their roles are paralleled by ours”
Type of:
agree, check, correspond, fit, gibe, jibe, match, tally
be compatible, similar or consistent; coincide in their characteristics

v make or place parallel to something

“They paralleled the ditch to the highway”
Synonyms:
collimate
Type of:
alter, change, modify
cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
2

n something having the property of being analogous to something else

Synonyms:
analog, analogue
Types:
echo
a close parallel of a feeling, idea, style, etc.
Type of:
similarity
the quality of being similar

adj of or relating to the simultaneous performance of multiple operations

parallel processing”
Synonyms:
synchronal, synchronic, synchronous
occurring or existing at the same time or having the same period or phase

v duplicate or match

Synonyms:
duplicate, twin
Type of:
agree, check, correspond, fit, gibe, jibe, match, tally
be compatible, similar or consistent; coincide in their characteristics

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.