Definition of elliptical in English:


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  • 1(of speech or writing) using or involving ellipsis, especially so as to be difficult to understand.

    ‘an elliptical lyrical style’
    • ‘At times, elliptical speech or writing is so concise that listeners and readers must supply missing elements through guesswork or special knowledge, and if they cannot, they fail to understand.’
    • ‘In each case, elliptical writing conveys too little.’
    • ‘I know about than the preposition vs. than the introducer of elliptical clauses, but this example took me (intuitively, not analytically) aback.’
    • ‘The elephant's road to freedom links up with a city dweller making a hard choice in a treacherous world, and in Sommers's hands, it all makes elliptical sense.’
    • ‘When little observations popped out, they had elliptical power.’
    • ‘The construction ‘the shiraz impresses’ seems to be elliptical, with an implied object complement that is not expressed, rather than being a genuinely intransitive verb.’
    • ‘The elliptical questions should be generally acceptable, since they don't have soon (with its usual component of afterness) in combination with before.’
    • ‘That is a phrase which, in our respectful submission, is also apt to mislead, it being an elliptical noun phrase.’
    • ‘Frost's text at times verges on the obtuse - her language and often convoluted and elliptical form of writing may well daunt the less academic reader.’
    • ‘Bush was as elliptical in his victory speech about what lies ahead in Iraq as about the domestic issues he touched on, which included the economy, taxes, Social Security and education.’
    • ‘This is not an easy task because of Knight's elliptical writing style.’
    • ‘To come to understand the grounds for this last rather elliptical claim, we must consider the logical status of ‘God is good.’’
    • ‘Cocteau, he added, protected his speech with short, tense and elliptical lines which formed a barrier between himself and the reader.’
    • ‘No, what puzzled us was Chuck Colson's elliptical logic and weird similes.’
    • ‘But his account is delivered in the same elliptical, insiders' fashion as the speeches that follow, and so requires as much exegesis and commentary as anything else in the book.’
    • ‘The writing may be a bit elliptical, but it's fun, which most food columns tend not to be.’
    • ‘Watching it now it seems even stranger that its oblique characters and elliptical, alien scenes of remote mountain-town malaise managed to hypnotise so many people for two series.’
    • ‘It never strives to say anything in particular, and the backroom drama-what there is of it anyway-is so brief, oblique and elliptical that it merely provides an air of impromptu, on-the-fly context for the dance numbers.’
    terse, concise, succinct, compact, economic, brief, laconic, sparing, pithy, curt, clipped
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  • 2

    another term for elliptic

    ‘Its elliptical paraboloid shape was selected because it could be easily described mathematically, simplifying both design and construction.’
    • ‘He guessed that the original cutting stylus was defective and so he tried a custom-made reproducing stylus, instead of the usual conical or elliptical styli.’
    • ‘The north face of the building is concave, completing the elliptical pattern that begins in the courtyard.’
    • ‘Small ovoid and elliptical silver baskets were made in the neoclassical style to hold sugar as part of the tea service.’
    • ‘He noted that if the bob was drawn back and released then it followed an elliptical path, and moreover the major axis rotated in the direction of revolution exactly as did the apsides of the moon's orbit.’
    • ‘They are often elliptical in shape, but sometimes possess hexagonal outlines.’
    • ‘He had achieved this by the time he was eighteen but at this stage he did not know even that the moon and planets described elliptical orbits.’
    • ‘These are spiral, elliptical, barred spiral and irregular.’
    • ‘Newton favoured comets having parabolic orbits, but Halley believed that elliptical orbits might exist.’
    • ‘Throughout time, there has been a continual change in the eccentricity of the elliptical orbit.’
    • ‘For two bodies, the solution is easy: the two bodies move around each other in elliptical orbits - or follow parabolic or hyperbolic paths in some special cases.’
    • ‘He appears to be shuffling the decks in an elliptical power move.’
    • ‘Once you understand elliptical orbits in the classical model, the relativistic model is really a minor modification of it in the cases we are talking about (with much more complex maths).’
    • ‘It consists of four parts, the elliptical garden incorporating an oval pool, the Yew garden, the upper terrace and a lower terrace and pergola, all four linked by a terrace which once fronted the original house.’
    • ‘If you look closely, you can see my chainrings aren't just oval or elliptical as others have been, but is elliptical in three dimensions.’
    • ‘Glossy deep green oval or elliptical leaves grow up to 18 inches long and 5 inches wide.’
    • ‘Clutch size is two and eggs are white, non-glossy and an elliptical oval shape.’
    • ‘Cells are oval or elliptical in shape, with the maximum width of the cell at about the midpoint of its length.’
    • ‘Visitors will be able to walk beneath the concave underside of the elliptical bean-shaped form.’
    • ‘The Earth's orbit changes from being almost a perfect circle to its elliptical form and then back again.’
    oval, egg-shaped, elliptic, ovate, ovoid, oviform, ellipsoidal
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/iˈliptik(ə)l/ /ɪˈlɪptɪk(ə)l/