Definition of linear in English:



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

    ‘linear arrangements’
    ‘linear in shape’
    ‘linear movement’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Thirty-three screens are evenly spaced along the 1800 linear feet of the arrivals corridor.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Because the linear pattern does not extend into later portions of the asymptomatic period, we did not analyze sequences isolated during the later portions.’
    • ‘In a susceptible smoker for 20 years, emphysema could develop along a linear course from middle to old age.’
    • ‘The result is that all the proteins being tested have nearly the same extended linear shape.’
    • ‘Again we appeal to volunteers to adopt a stretch of margin along our very long linear village.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘No remnants of these prairies survive, except for linear strips along railways.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The linear grass verge along the village has some attractive planting but many stretches are in need of cultivation.’
    • ‘The absolute elongation rate during the linear phase was nearly constant from leaf 8 onwards.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The mode presenting the greatest risk to life is truck transport because its manned systems are restricted to moving along linear lines of march.’
    • ‘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 impact of deals on reference price was nearly linear: there was no insensitivity to small deals.’
    • ‘We also accomplished the extraction of unidirectional movement from the bidirectional movements along the linear tracks by adding arrowhead patterns on the tracks.’
    • ‘A ‘two-stepper’ motor, one for linear motion along a straight line, and the other for turning, provide the robot with efficient mobility.’
    unswerving, undeviating, linear, direct, as straight as an arrow, uncurving, unbending
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Consisting of or predominantly formed using lines or outlines.
      ‘simple linear designs’
      • ‘The artist's linear arabesques reminded Greenberg of the feminized forms of Art Nouveau.’
      • ‘The ropes act as substitutes for brush-strokes, embodying linear patterns and animating geometric forms.’
      • ‘Providing students with supplemental maps instead of traditional linear outlines significantly improved examination scores.’
      • ‘Familiar national outlines disappear as a linear design emerges that suggests the skeletal remains of some ancient mammal.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There are other panels with flat planes of tertiary colour, some with 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.’
      • ‘The paste etched the glass very lightly, giving a clear if somewhat faint design without the deep linear outline of the first process.’
      • ‘The baroque linear swirls and variably sized round icons on the wall were cut from adhesive vinyl in glimmering teal, mauve and purple.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Initially, the artist blocks out his masses, then zones them by tonal contrasts, and concludes by linear accenting and overpainted figures.’
      • ‘The figures and symbols are as flat, frontal and linear as Byzantine icons; the intricate floral backgrounds tame jungle vegetation into elegant patterns.’
      • ‘During the 1940s and 1950s his sculpture was predominantly open and linear, like three-dimensional metal calligraphy.’
      • ‘Its palette of greens, purples and yellows and its spontaneous, linear drawing recall Joan Mitchell and late Monet.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2Involving one dimension only.
      ‘linear elasticity’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 difficult thing is that the correct data must be found, and the dimensional structure is not linear.’
      • ‘Its foundation is established, and layers of the story reveal themselves, not in linear fashion, but in three dimensions.’
      • ‘Additionally, for animals with large muscle area, linear muscle dimensions may be used to decrease prediction error associated with a single area measurement alone.’
      • ‘The linear dimensional change on ageing is very small.’
    3. 1.3Mathematics Able to be represented by a straight line on a graph; involving or exhibiting directly proportional change in two related quantities.
      ‘linear functions’
      ‘linear relationship’
      • ‘In addition, you may need probability theory and statistics, linear algebra, numerical methods and the like depending on the field you choose.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Showing them that a line can represent a linear mathematical equation graphically.’
  • 2Progressing from one stage to another in a single series of steps; sequential.

    ‘a linear narrative’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Imploding his linear narrative in a single frame, Shaw creates on canvas a kind of literary black hole.’
    • ‘These were brought together and placed in a linear narrative sequence in a process of historical convergence.’
    • ‘We notice the linear progress in the way the language (of the Geneva Bible) proceeds-how many aporias there are!’
    • ‘It's not necessarily linear - there are stages, but there are many peaks and valleys.’
    • ‘Progress seems linear, even sublinear in some cases.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A linear sequential model has the simplest topology, but nevertheless has been successfully used to describe the gating of many ion channels.’
    • ‘In fact, no one tradition existed changeless throughout the Western world or descended in a linear fashion from a single national origin.’
    • ‘A linear time series approach was used to see if changes in these dimensions represented secular trends.’
    • ‘The story, such as it is, moves forward through associative montage rather than linear narrative progression.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Planning will be iterative and collaborative rather than sequential and linear, more a framework for learning and action than a rigid template.’
    • ‘Progress through these developmental stages is not necessarily linear or uniform.’
    • ‘This adds a completely new degree of immersiveness, since you rarely feel obligated to conform to a linear path of progress.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In contrast Europeans may prefer to learn in a more linear and sequential fashion, learning about the individual parts before building towards the whole.’
    • ‘Of course, if this is not to your taste the book could simply be read conventionally as a single linear narrative.’


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