Definition of non-linear in English:



  • 1Not arranged in a straight line.

    unmethodical, uncoordinated, undirected, disorganized, unarranged, unplanned, unpremeditated, indiscriminate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Mathematics Denoting or involving an equation whose terms are not of the first degree.
      • ‘This approximation was adopted in the model because of the mathematical difficulties in solving non-linear systems of equations.’
      • ‘The non-linear differential equation describing the growth of a biological population which he deduced and studied is now named after him.’
      • ‘It was then that he became aware of the mysteries underlying the subject of non-linear partial differential equations.’
      • ‘Norman decided to shift his field from gap and density theorems to non-linear differential equations, both ordinary and partial.’
      • ‘He also investigated mathematical questions which were related to these applications, in particular writing important works on non-linear integral equations.’
    2. 1.2Physics Involving a lack of linearity between two related qualities such as input and output.
      ‘a non-linear network’
      • ‘If matter is present where the photons cross, non-linear effects caused by accelerated electric charges may allow the photons to interact.’
      • ‘These indices characterize the relationship between linear elastic behaviour and non-linear behaviour of the material.’
      • ‘He talked about proportionality in linear and non-linear relationships.’
      • ‘It will build on Hull's existing expertise in linear and non-linear acoustical properties of materials, aspects of outdoor acoustics and in silencer design and combustion noise.’
      • ‘Other non-linear factors also contribute to increase the resulting gain disparity between wavelengths.’
    3. 1.3Mathematics Involving measurement in more than one dimension.
  • 2Not sequential or straightforward.

    ‘Joyce's stream-of-consciousness, non-linear narrative’
    • ‘Will UK readers cope with the experimental, non-linear narrative structure?’
    • ‘I was thinking more along the lines of composing these non-linear narratives.’
    • ‘The storyline jumps forward and backward in time in non-linear fragments.’
    • ‘The non-linear screenplay by Ring Lardner, Jr. (adapted from a novel by Richard Hooker) is filled with a lot of jokes and one liners that were highly amusing.’
    • ‘And the work also asks you to construct narrative in a completely non-linear way with no real direction towards ‘truth’.’
    • ‘I enjoy the non-linear narrative and authentic representation of Mexican culture.’
    • ‘I stress the fact that travel (as opposed, perhaps, to tourism) is a non-linear experience, and that travel narratives written in a non-linear way are generally the most engaging.’
    • ‘Gondry, who is no stranger to playing with time, makes superb use of non-linear storytelling as he ingeniously whips through the story's physical and temporal, back-and-forth plot.’
    • ‘Some kind of story was being told but it was in a non-linear, fragmentary kind of way.’
    • ‘The loose, non-linear narrative is almost poetic in the way that it is structured.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, the film itself was a bit slow-paced and difficult to follow, with a non-linear narrative structure.’
    • ‘Sometimes these are the visual equivalent of a non-linear narrative.’
    • ‘Although the film begins with a gun pressed firmly against The Boss's skull and promises to unfold unpredictably, any thoughts of a non-linear narrative similar to that of Post Mortem soon fall by the wayside.’
    • ‘Its central story is atmospheric and makes good use of non-linear storytelling without stepping over the line into pretension.’
    • ‘People leave the theatre either gleefully ruminating over what it all means, or cursing the day non-linear narrative was invented.’
    • ‘The plot unravels episodically and in a non-linear fashion, with characters from one segment occasionally appearing in, or passing through, another.’
    • ‘His mastery over the craft of cinema is evidenced in the manner he has tightly woven the narrative, which in this case is a non-linear one.’
    • ‘But despite the fact that the missions make up a comprehensive story line, the game is entirely non-linear.’
    • ‘As rock climbers, we are taught to think in linear and non-linear ways.’
    • ‘The narrative technique is deliberately non-linear and complex, the language richly poetic and suffused with biblical references.’
  • 3Of or denoting digital editing whereby a sequence of edits is stored on computer as opposed to videotape.

    • ‘The key to all of this is non-linear computer editing.’
    • ‘The videotapes were digitized, and processed through a computer based non-linear video editing system.’
    • ‘This has certainly been the case with non-linear digital editing systems.’
    • ‘And you will need a three machine edit suite or a non-linear computer editing system to achieve this.’
    • ‘For editing non-linear computer editing is the only way to go.’


  • go non-linear

    • informal Become very excited or angry, especially about a particular obsession.

      ‘don't mention the drug problem or he'll go non-linear for hours’