Definition of triangulate in US English:



  • 1with object Divide (an area) into triangles for surveying purposes.

    • ‘If we watch the area behind the sweep-line, we can see that it has already been triangulated.’
    • ‘The two aspects that fascinated me most: The simple acts of triangulating and measuring the world in order to capture it on paper, from objects to geometry to images.’
    make a survey of, value, carry out a valuation of, estimate the value of
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Measure and map (an area) by the use of triangles with a known base length and base angles.
      • ‘In the following year they surveyed the perpendicular to the meridian east of Paris, triangulating the area between Paris and Strasbourg.’
    2. 1.2 Determine (a height, distance, or location) by the use of triangles.
      • ‘‘‘They were able to triangulate phone calls and determine their point of origin,’ this source said.’’
      • ‘Far from being insignificant, these cultural points of reference triangulate our locations with respect to strangers.’
      • ‘Radio buoys at the positions and distances indicated by letters, continuously triangulated positions as the animal moved steadily away from the array, never to return.’
      • ‘Fox pulls a palm computer out from her belt and is triangulating their positions.’
      • ‘Each site acts like a surveyor's stake in triangulating the location.’
      • ‘These receivers search the sky for as many GPS satellites as they can find and use the signals to triangulate your location.’
      • ‘One of the ship's officers triangulated the height of the wave using the ship's mast and the horizon to determine that it was 112 feet high.’
      • ‘If they locate heat sources on or near a road, the location can be triangulated as a possible site for an improvised explosive device.’
      • ‘After watching the movie trailer you can then find the nearest cinema, triangulate your position so you can work out where you are and then dial the cinema booking line to order the tickets.’
      • ‘If the machine, which can detect the slightest tap made for metres around, detects any signs of life, additional microphones are added to triangulate the exact position of the noise.’
      • ‘Through extremes of weather and disease, these scientists dutifully triangulate distances and gather botanical specimens throughout the Peruvian wilderness.’
      • ‘According to the list an attempt at contact would be made in about an hour, that would give him just enough time to reach a second radio to triangulate the position.’
      • ‘The owner of the phone has no clue where the phone is, and has to gradually triangulate the phone's location in four minute intervals when all he wants to do is go back to sleep.’
      • ‘We initially located nests by flushing the hen, but after 31 May 1994 we located nests by triangulating the location of the nest and returning to search for it after she had completed her egg-laying visit.’
      • ‘But when we look outside of ourselves, and listen to someone else's story, however false or unintelligible it may seem, we begin to triangulate our positions.’
      • ‘The system can then triangulate the car's position.’
      • ‘For example, Morton envisions someone developing a way to triangulate the location of gunshots between several cameras.’
      • ‘There are two ways to do that: One is that you change the way the receivers work so that they can triangulate your location.’
      • ‘Frankly, it seems to me a little meaningless to just consult the work and one's own subjective reaction to it, without triangulating the location with some sense of the artist's motives.’
      • ‘This basically triangulates the phone's position within the cell it is currently receiving a signal from.’
  • 2with object Form into a triangle or triangles.

    ‘the brackets triangulate the frame’
    • ‘But there does lurk a slightly retro touch under the skin: between the main structure and the cones is a pair of triangulated aluminium frames which holds the engine and front suspension.’
    • ‘The triangulated space frame of the roof is made up of solid stainless steel rods that form six pointed stars screwed into nodal connectors.’
    • ‘I and others showed that any polygon could be triangulated with non-obtuse triangles.’
    • ‘A computer implemented method for generating a triangulated mesh representation of a complex graphical object.’
  • 3US no object (in politics) position oneself in such a way as to appeal to or appease both left-wing and right-wing standpoints.

    ‘will the president decide to triangulate?’
    • ‘But I suspect that those who "triangulate" believe that cramming conflicting views into the big tent is a moral objective.’
    • ‘As Arnold points out, the purpose here is to triangulate against the Democratic Congress.’
    • ‘I believe that Hillary Clinton is actually better than Barack Obama, because she's got her husband that will triangulate and reel her in.’
    • ‘For in presentation terms, at least, Blair has constantly triangulated - always defining himself at odds with his own party.’
    • ‘Maybe it's worth it to the President to triangulate on this, but the political price down the road could be quite high.’
    • ‘People are sick of the say little, no fight back, triangulating party.’
    • ‘Election reverses in the 80s led New Labour to triangulate to the right in order to gain power.’
    • ‘The strategy for Democrats in the Red Zone is to triangulate, not imitate.’
    • ‘His left-right one-two punch seems to leave the President in the triangulated middle of his debate with himself.’
    • ‘They continue to perpetuate the myth that he's mistrusted by the Republican base in order to help him triangulate against Bush.’
    • ‘Would they hesitate and triangulate, or would they push hard for real change?’
    • ‘The Conservative Party could easily at the moment, and without compromising any of its core ideas, almost reverse triangulate towards the Left’


Mid 19th century: from Latin triangulum ‘triangle’ (see triangle) + -ate.