Definition of linear in English:



  • 1Arranged in or extending along a straight or nearly straight line.

    ‘linear movement’
    • ‘No remnants of these prairies survive, except for linear strips along railways.’
    • ‘In a susceptible smoker for 20 years, emphysema could develop along a linear course from middle to old age.’
    • ‘That allows the principal rooms to be arranged in a linear fashion, not too deep into the hillside, with plenty of glazing on the sunny side, providing warmth, natural light, fresh air and views.’
    • ‘Mr Ahern also suggested that a zebra crossing be put in at every 70 metres on the main streets in the town and develop a linear park along the riverbank.’
    • ‘These rows act as linear tracks along which microtubules can be passed: the kinesin molecules pass the tubules to one another like a bucket brigade.’
    • ‘The house features a triple height glazed central atrium along the linear axis of the house where the main circulation wraps around a 9m high feature chimney.’
    • ‘In tall canopies, the operator moves beneath the canopy along a linear path, keeping the sensor oriented to the sun with the help of a sight.’
    • ‘The linear grass verge along the village has some attractive planting but many stretches are in need of cultivation.’
    • ‘Thirty-three screens are evenly spaced along the 1800 linear feet of the arrivals corridor.’
    • ‘The result is that all the proteins being tested have nearly the same extended linear shape.’
    • ‘The mode presenting the greatest risk to life is truck transport because its manned systems are restricted to moving along linear lines of march.’
    • ‘The impact of deals on reference price was nearly linear: there was no insensitivity to small deals.’
    • ‘Bishop Wilton is a delightful village, strung linear along a sparkling beck, containing old brick houses in a little valley terraced with sinuous greens.’
    • ‘Therefore, progression from mitosis into meiotic prophase is spatially organized in a linear fashion extending from the distal end.’
    • ‘Pisces symbolises the instinct for collective movement and association, usually along the linear flow of tidal pulls, a quick response to fashions and trends that are gaining pace.’
    • ‘A ‘two-stepper’ motor, one for linear motion along a straight line, and the other for turning, provide the robot with efficient mobility.’
    • ‘Because the linear pattern does not extend into later portions of the asymptomatic period, we did not analyze sequences isolated during the later portions.’
    • ‘The absolute elongation rate during the linear phase was nearly constant from leaf 8 onwards.’
    • ‘Again we appeal to volunteers to adopt a stretch of margin along our very long linear village.’
    • ‘We also accomplished the extraction of unidirectional movement from the bidirectional movements along the linear tracks by adding arrowhead patterns on the tracks.’
    unswerving, undeviating, direct, as straight as an arrow, uncurving, unbending
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Consisting of or predominantly formed using lines or outlines.
      ‘simple linear designs’
      • ‘Characterized by a loose yet linear style, Lennon was inspired by the art of Oriental line drawing, endeavoring to create an evocative image quickly with as few lines as possible.’
      • ‘Providing linear counterpoint, simple designs stitched in black thread flow over and around the painted images.’
      • ‘Its palette of greens, purples and yellows and its spontaneous, linear drawing recall Joan Mitchell and late Monet.’
      • ‘It reminded me of Honoré Daumier's linear quality, but the more I looked there was the strength of a John Singer Sargent portrait, a grand picture of a simple woman.’
      • ‘There are other panels with flat planes of tertiary colour, some with simple linear designs.’
      • ‘Despite what has been said so far about the use of the camera to make drawings, it is curiously an absence of linear outline in Vermeer's finished work to which Gowing points.’
      • ‘The artist's linear arabesques reminded Greenberg of the feminized forms of Art Nouveau.’
      • ‘Initially, the artist blocks out his masses, then zones them by tonal contrasts, and concludes by linear accenting and overpainted figures.’
      • ‘Familiar national outlines disappear as a linear design emerges that suggests the skeletal remains of some ancient mammal.’
      • ‘During the 1940s and 1950s his sculpture was predominantly open and linear, like three-dimensional metal calligraphy.’
      • ‘The photographic image of the furry toy contrasts with the rigid stylization of the linear Chinese Court Style drawing.’
      • ‘The English linear tradition reaches new heights in Hockney's all-knowing self-portrait observed in a New York bathroom mirror.’
      • ‘The baroque linear swirls and variably sized round icons on the wall were cut from adhesive vinyl in glimmering teal, mauve and purple.’
      • ‘Providing students with supplemental maps instead of traditional linear outlines significantly improved examination scores.’
      • ‘The figures and symbols are as flat, frontal and linear as Byzantine icons; the intricate floral backgrounds tame jungle vegetation into elegant patterns.’
      • ‘The ropes act as substitutes for brush-strokes, embodying linear patterns and animating geometric forms.’
      • ‘The paste etched the glass very lightly, giving a clear if somewhat faint design without the deep linear outline of the first process.’
      • ‘Using a geometric style that is still sparer and more linear than her previous book designs, she presents a visual metaphor of the book itself.’
      • ‘Paul Klee's Inscription, a product of the Bauhaus years, is a quiet linear study in black india ink on a watercolor ground of tannic brown.’
      • ‘The inclusion of Agostino di Duccio's limpidly linear Madonna and Child relief from the V & A reminds us that not all rilievo schiacciato looks like Donatello.’
    2. 1.2 Involving one dimension only.
      ‘linear elasticity’
      • ‘Its foundation is established, and layers of the story reveal themselves, not in linear fashion, but in three dimensions.’
      • ‘The difficult thing is that the correct data must be found, and the dimensional structure is not linear.’
      • ‘Evidence that animals can monitor the linear dimensions of their organs comes from organisms with either less or more than the diploid number of chromosomes - that is haploid and polyploid organisms.’
      • ‘The linear dimensional change on ageing is very small.’
      • ‘Additionally, for animals with large muscle area, linear muscle dimensions may be used to decrease prediction error associated with a single area measurement alone.’
      • ‘We're currently shrinking the size of technology by a factor of 5.6 per linear dimension per decade, so it is conservative to say that this scenario will be feasible in a few decades.’
    3. 1.3Mathematics Able to be represented by a straight line on a graph.
      ‘linear functions’
      • ‘Consider first the simple example of a random walk on a 3-point linear graph.’
      • ‘No cryptographic algorithm should be a linear function.’
      • ‘Lines represent regressions of linear portion of each curve extrapolated to the y-axis.’
      • ‘In addition, you may need probability theory and statistics, linear algebra, numerical methods and the like depending on the field you choose.’
      • ‘Showing them that a line can represent a linear mathematical equation graphically.’
    4. 1.4Mathematics Involving or exhibiting directly proportional change in two related quantities.
      ‘linear relationship’
      • ‘Of course the relationship is not linear and directly causal, but more complex.’
      • ‘This represents a strong linear relationship between size of drainage and number of species present.’
      • ‘The solid line indicates the linear relationship between duplication and loss in different subfamilies.’
      • ‘As a result of this activity, students may or may not discover that the diameter and the circumference of the circle stand in a linear relationship.’
      • ‘The proposed graph underlines the linear relation between dose and risk.’
  • 2Progressing from one stage to another in a single series of steps; sequential.

    ‘a linear narrative’
    • ‘These were brought together and placed in a linear narrative sequence in a process of historical convergence.’
    • ‘Of course, if this is not to your taste the book could simply be read conventionally as a single linear narrative.’
    • ‘Progress through these developmental stages is not necessarily linear or uniform.’
    • ‘Progress seems linear, even sublinear in some cases.’
    • ‘Planning will be iterative and collaborative rather than sequential and linear, more a framework for learning and action than a rigid template.’
    • ‘In contrast Europeans may prefer to learn in a more linear and sequential fashion, learning about the individual parts before building towards the whole.’
    • ‘They do not represent primitive vestiges of an early stage in the linear progress of life.’
    • ‘Quantitative research can be characterized as a linear series of steps moving from theory to conclusions.’
    • ‘We notice the linear progress in the way the language (of the Geneva Bible) proceeds-how many aporias there are!’
    • ‘In the hands of a competent architect it can be an orderly process, but it rarely consists of a linear sequence of steps leading inexorably toward a predictable result.’
    • ‘Imploding his linear narrative in a single frame, Shaw creates on canvas a kind of literary black hole.’
    • ‘A linear sequential model has the simplest topology, but nevertheless has been successfully used to describe the gating of many ion channels.’
    • ‘This adds a completely new degree of immersiveness, since you rarely feel obligated to conform to a linear path of progress.’
    • ‘In place of the linear progress through the ages of his preceding two volumes, Mansfield has chosen a sophisticated mix of chronological and topical frames.’
    • ‘A linear time series approach was used to see if changes in these dimensions represented secular trends.’
    • ‘In fact, no one tradition existed changeless throughout the Western world or descended in a linear fashion from a single national origin.’
    • ‘The story, such as it is, moves forward through associative montage rather than linear narrative progression.’
    • ‘It's not necessarily linear - there are stages, but there are many peaks and valleys.’
    • ‘No wonder some critics think that Shanghaiese are not ready to see a Pina Bausch show because they have not surpassed the stage of merely appreciating linear narrative.’
    • ‘In particular, they carry out instructions one after another, in a single linear sequence, and they spend a lot of time moving data to and from the memory.’


Mid 17th century: from Latin linearis, from linea ‘a line’ (see line).