triangulate

To triangulate is to divide into triangles or use triangles to measure something. Sometimes people triangulate to measure distance. When you use three points to measure something, you triangulate.

Recognize the word triangle in triangulate? It’s no coincidence, both words come from the Latin triangulum for yes, “triangle.” When you triangulate, you make a series of triangles to measure distance or altitude. The height of a mountain and the distance to a river could both be estimated by triangulating. This type of triangulating is derived from trigonometry, which involves measuring the length and angles of triangles. You may have done that type of triangulating in math class.

Definitions of triangulate
  1. verb
    measure by using trigonometry
    triangulate the angle”
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    type of:
    measure, measure out, mensurate
    determine the measurements of something or somebody, take measurements of
  2. verb
    survey by triangulation
    “The land surveyor worked by triangulating the plot”
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    type of:
    survey
    plot a map of (land)
  3. verb
    divide into triangles or give a triangular form to
    triangulate the piece of cardboard”
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    type of:
    carve up, dissever, divide, separate, split, split up
    separate into parts or portions
  4. adjective
    composed of or marked with triangles
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