Definition of catenary in US English:



  • 1A curve formed by a wire, rope, or chain hanging freely from two points and forming a U shape.

    as modifier ‘a catenary wire’
    • ‘In the final work in this show Johns uses the simplest of motifs, a catenary line; the curve of a cord hanging between two points.’
    • ‘There are results on the curve of quickest descent, results on the catenary (in particular relating this problems to that of placing spheres in an arch), and results on orthogonal trajectories.’
    • ‘While others in the profession worked with straight edges, Gaudi invented his own methods for modeling parabolic arches from the catenary curve created by suspending a length of chain between two points.’
    • ‘In mathematics Jungius proved that the catenary is not a parabola (Galileo assumed it was).’
    • ‘The thing is, you can create a catenary curve by spinning a square on its axis and tracing the trajectory of a point.’
    • ‘Suspended by a network of tensile wires from a central mast, this inverted catenary roof consists of five planes moored to two smaller secondary masts at each end.’
    • ‘The tube is not stretched tight, but hangs like a chain between two posts in a shallow curve called a catenary.’
    • ‘At the time of his death he was working on problems in kinematics, having earlier studied statics and in particular the catenary.’
    • ‘A catenary is the curve describing a rope or chain hanging loosely between two fixed points.’
    • ‘Now, the principle for doing that is demonstrated by the catenary principle, otherwise known as the principle of least action; that is, Leibniz's principle of least action.’
    • ‘The roof is made in a similar way to the walls, with the cables allowed to adopt a catenary curve between the core and the outer steel compression ring.’
    • ‘He met Johann Bernoulli in 1691, shortly after the latter had made his discovery of the catenary.’
    • ‘Other topics which Adrain wrote about include a study of the catenary, and other curves which he called isotomous.’
    • ‘What are the curvatures, which combine to define the catenary function?’
    • ‘Because of opposition to a catenary system, the surface system uses busses powered by compressed natural gas.’
    • ‘Like the tardigrade, this earthquake-resistant house is all curves, from the oval floor plan to the dual parabolic and catenary arches of its profile.’
    • ‘Turning the curve upside down gives you an inverted catenary.’
    • ‘The Choo Choo also has a New Orleans Streetcar ride through the complex, complete with a catenary wire. We decided we would ride this at 4 PM, after our return from the tourist train trip.’
    • ‘The tapes needed to be checked on a flat surface because holding them in suspension would produce a catenary which would make it difficult to check the correctness of the measurement.’
    • ‘Johann Bernoulli had already solved the problem of the catenary which had been posed by his brother in 1691.’
    1. 1.1 A wire, rope, or chain forming a catenary.
      • ‘To add certainty to these movements, the officers used the cables of the RENFE catenary and the mountains in the background as a point of reference.’
      • ‘Metro North continues to have one track totally out of service for bridge and catenary repairs.’
      • ‘We were able to see the concrete abutments where there were once catenary towers.’
      • ‘The electric part is that it uses a pantograph or roof mounted current collector to pick up electricity from the overhead catenary or wires - the same ones that zapped little Timu a few days ago.’
      • ‘If we look at that, then look at bridges and catenaries, and teach the principles.’
      • ‘Another innovation is a system of steel catenary cables embedded in floor slabs.’
      • ‘We were going to be in Kansas City, but not by the route used by Amtrak, that will soon have catenary.’
      • ‘He used as reference the catenary cables of the RENFE train line that crosses the community as well as the horizon delineated by the mountains surrounding the area.’
      • ‘Howard Street has some tracks and catenary that resembles those found along St. Charles, but except for the St. Charles Streetcars in one direction, they are not used on Howard.’
      • ‘But he ran through the portal before the track was laid, and he climbed a catenary pole, and was electrocuted.’
      • ‘At Morrisville we pass the old flyover for the PRR Trenton Cut-off freight line. It has been rehabbed and new catenary installed.’
      • ‘They recently opened electrification from Windsor to Blainville, and they electrified the track between CP and CN tracks, using overhead catenary the whole way.’
      • ‘Once onto the actual branch, old catenary towers are visible, a reminder that this line was once electrified.’
      • ‘This was another eight-minute trip, during which we did the reverse procedure, switching from catenary to third rail power.’
      • ‘I later found out that the problem was a transformer fire in the Bronx, which resulted in a loss of power to the overhead catenary along the Hell Gate Bridge line.’
      • ‘The Village luminaires feature pole, wall and catenary mounted fittings that correspond with the other site furnishings.’
      • ‘On the way, we passed underneath the METRA line we had ridden earlier, over a waterway, past the Skokie Shops, and experienced a power change as the train switched from third rail to overhead catenary power.’
      • ‘It looks like a spider's web above the tracks with all the catenary, although rumor has it that one of the two new tracks will be ‘unplugged’ as it where.’
      • ‘The line uses a single Arrow III MU coach, running under catenary just like its much larger siblings on the other electrified lines.’


Mid 18th century: from Latin catenarius ‘relating to a chain’, from catena ‘chain’.