Definition of symmetry in US English:



  • 1The quality of being made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis.

    ‘this series has a line of symmetry through its center’
    ‘a crystal structure with hexagonal symmetry’
    • ‘The axis of symmetry is indicated by a red broken line, along which pharyngeal slits are positioned.’
    • ‘Zygomorphic flowers are monosymmetric having a single line of symmetry.’
    • ‘Furthermore, with the spine as the line of symmetry, ‘right’ and ‘left’ sides are proportionally equal, but inverses of one another.’
    • ‘When an egg is spun on its side, its axis of symmetry - a line stretching between the eggs' two tips - starts off by being horizontal.’
    • ‘The y-axis was defined by the axis of symmetry.’
    • ‘Some of our rectangles had radial symmetry, while others achieved asymmetrical balance.’
    • ‘Certain corals, for example, build structures with hexagonal symmetry, but not in seafloor sediment.’
    • ‘6.3 m high shells will be built out of lightweight blocks up to third floor level and juxtaposed with each other in rotational symmetry.’
    • ‘Because of this and rotational symmetry, all the red segments in Fig 8 have the same length.’
    • ‘Consider those examples of Georgian architecture where a door doesn't even open, built there simply because a functioning door lies across the axis of symmetry.’
    • ‘A bipolar nebula is one that is created by ejecting material primarily in a flat disk perpendicular to a single axis of symmetry.’
    • ‘Just as geometrical figures can exhibit symmetries, so can whole dynamical systems.’
    • ‘He examined the three dimensional figures obtained by rotating a regular polygon about an axis of symmetry.’
    • ‘In principle, it is possible that the hexagonal symmetry of the inner structure is a result of superposition of stacks of membranes oriented at different angles.’
    • ‘Each molecule has on average six neighbors, generating a six-fold hexagonal symmetry.’
    • ‘In snowflakes there is always this hexagonal, six-fold symmetry; that's because of the properties of water molecules.’
    • ‘This clearly depends on the high degree of symmetry of the hexagons of Figure 5.’
    • ‘Moreover, the segments characterized have a common helical symmetry.’
    • ‘One was designed to form a cage-like structure with tetrahedral symmetry, consisting of 12 subunits.’
    • ‘New taxa include branching forms up to 1 cm in diameter that display hexagonal symmetry.’
    • ‘There is a greater density beneath the lunar nearside, displacing its center of mass away from its axis of symmetry, and the pull of the Earth keeps that greater mass directed towards us.’
    regularity, evenness, uniformity, equilibrium, consistency, congruity, conformity, agreement, correspondence, orderliness, equality
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    1. 1.1 Correct or pleasing proportion of the parts of a thing.
      ‘an overall symmetry making the poem pleasant to the ear’
      • ‘This claim uncovers why we find certain formal properties such as symmetry and regularity aesthetically pleasing.’
      • ‘In bodybuilding, symmetry is the balance of the various muscles to each other, as well as the upper body to the lower body and the right side to the left.’
      • ‘I'm talking about classical proportions, perfect symmetry and ideal conditioning.’
      • ‘The judges were more interested in size than overall balance, proportion and symmetry.’
      • ‘In art it is often the departures from symmetry that are aesthetically pleasing or disturbing, and in science those same asymmetries are both revealing and informative.’
      • ‘Sometimes he identifies the beautiful with the typical in nature, but in De re aedificatoria he constructs a theory of beauty around mathematical symmetry and proportion of parts.’
      • ‘The workshop participants spend a whole day, working on their paintings and getting the proportion, tone and symmetry just right.’
      • ‘Such was the proportion and perfect symmetry of her body, each part in harmony with the rest, that no one till then had ever seen its like among human kind - a living work of art, an object of desire to lovers of beauty.’
      • ‘Admire its graceful entryway and its classic sense of proportion and symmetry.’
      • ‘Such inconsistencies as there are in her statements of evidence of are in my judgment minor and do not challenge the overall symmetry and substance of her story.’
      • ‘The symmetry is pleasing, at the end of a narrative that is bracing, adventurous, touched by surprises, perfectly balanced and completely engrossing.’
      • ‘Every detail exudes careful workmanship, from the perfect symmetry of the grind lines to the final hand rubbed blade finish.’
      • ‘It's also the antithesis of a well-tailored suit, where you're looking for symmetry, flowing lines, and the ability to draw your attention to the face.’
      • ‘He found studying Greek art and architecture humbling, realising that all those years ago people knew so much about proportion and symmetry.’
      • ‘Yet somehow the house works thanks to Adler's innate sense of symmetry and proportion - and so does the Italian suburban villa in chilly Milwaukee.’
      • ‘However perfect its symmetry and proportions, a room might still leave us cold without such direct appeals to the eye, the body, and the spirit.’
      • ‘Following the rules of proportion and symmetry of the ancients was important to Brunelleschi but he wanted these mathematical principles of beauty to be those seen by all observers.’
      • ‘LAC Martin said the competition was judged on symmetry, proportion and balance - whether the body is balanced top to bottom and side to side.’
      • ‘An out-of-court settlement cannot be one-sided; it must be based on parity, equity and symmetry, on the principle of give-and-take by both parties.’
      • ‘Inspired by the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, classic rooms have clean, simple lines and formal symmetry.’
      balance, proportions, regularity, evenness of form, harmony, harmoniousness, consonance, concord, coordination
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    2. 1.2 Similarity or exact correspondence between different things.
      ‘history sometimes exhibits weird symmetries between events’
      ‘a lack of symmetry between men and women’
      • ‘There is generally close symmetry between the opinions rendered by Doctors Woodside and Gojer.’
      • ‘In other words, these projects are distinctive for not following the classic paradigm of symmetry between object of study or topic, fieldwork, and written product.’
      • ‘‘There is a disconcerting symmetry between Prozac and Ritalin,’ he writes.’
      • ‘But there is also a curious symmetry between opponents of the death penalty, and opponents of euthanasia and living wills.’
      • ‘Lino A. Graglia of the law school at the University of Texas is exceedingly impatient with such suggestions of symmetry between right and left.’
      • ‘There is a significant lack of symmetry between the two acts of the play, separated by a fifteen minute interval, which I found a distraction.’
      • ‘I note as well that although there is overlap between the prior beneficial owners, and the present beneficial owners, there is no exact symmetry.’
      • ‘How do you establish some sort of symmetry between those ideas about civil society and what happens in the institutional church in your country?’
      • ‘The key point is its re-establishment of symmetry between social relations.’
      • ‘The symmetry between the two markets breaks down because whenever the central bank intervenes, it is always in the bond market, never in the commodity market.’
      • ‘This provides symmetry between deductibility by the companies and taxability of the employees which he says is the purpose of the section.’
      • ‘There is also a certain symmetry between the two species, for the adherents of a politicised religion, like soldiers in an army, are in a permanent state of combat and vigilance.’
      • ‘The symmetry between the fate of the Middle Eastern Nobel laureates and their Irish counterparts continues looking at those who have displaced them.’
      • ‘There was too great a link and matching symmetry between the different movements, each one anchored by a duet.’
      • ‘Mr Roth was immediately outraged at what he regarded as gross insensitivity and an attempt to create a false symmetry between the two deaths.’
      • ‘As she was busy making sure that the spoons and forks were in perfect symmetry with each other, Damian took a good look at her.’
      • ‘There is no necessary or easy symmetry between the contexts of reading and writing, nor between the scope of intention and motivation on the one hand and that of interpretation and response on the other.’
      • ‘It's also a tidy world, with a degree of moral symmetry between the past and the present.’
      • ‘While there is likely to be a symmetry between the two ideas in this answer - pleasant work and nice people - there is no necessary correspondence between them.’
      • ‘The symmetry between Dan and Carter is clear and perhaps too overt at times, although never seems forced, or uncomfortable, which fits in nicely with the relaxed nature of the film.’
    3. 1.3Physics Mathematics A law or operation in which a physical property or process has an equivalence in two or more directions.
      • ‘Physicists have always looked for symmetries - and broken symmetries - because they can lead to fundamental principles.’
      • ‘The mathematical beauty and experimental success of this idea have led physicists to extend it to higher energies and possible higher symmetries, as will be described below.’
      • ‘The usual group of spacetime symmetries in relativistic quantum field theory is called the Poincaré group.’
      • ‘In this theory a nonlinear symmetry unifies the Standard Model particles with heavy new particles.’
      • ‘String theory and/or supersymmetry, for example, involve higher dimensions of space that introduce new degrees of freedom and possible violations of space-time symmetries such as Lorentz symmetry.’
      • ‘This connection provides the major conceptual apparatus of modern physics, through the concept of physical symmetries, or invariance principles, and valid transformations.’


Mid 16th century (denoting proportion): from French symétrie or Latin symmetria, from Greek, from sun- ‘with’ + metron ‘measure’.