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[pir-uh-mid] /ˈpɪr ə mɪd/
  1. (in ancient Egypt) a quadrilateral masonry mass having smooth, steeply sloping sides meeting at an apex, used as a tomb.
  2. (in ancient Egypt and pre-Columbian Central America) a quadrilateral masonry mass, stepped and sharply sloping, used as a tomb or a platform for a temple.
anything of such form.
a number of persons or things arranged or heaped up in this manner:
a pyramid of acrobats; a pyramid of boxes.
a system or structure resembling a pyramid, as in hierarchical form.
Geometry. a solid having a polygonal base, and triangular sides that meet in a point.
Crystallography. any form the planes of which intersect all three of the axes.
Anatomy, Zoology. any of various parts or structures of pyramidal form.
Also called pyramid scheme. a scheme that pyramids, as in speculating on the stock exchange or writing a chain letter.
a tree pruned or trained to grow in conical form.
pyramids, (used with a singular verb) British. a form of pocket billiards for two or four players in which 15 colored balls, initially placed in the form of a triangle, are pocketed with one white cue ball.
verb (used without object)
to take, or become disposed in, the form of a pyramid.
Stock Exchange. (in speculating on margin) to enlarge one's operations in a series of transactions, as on a continued rise or decline in price, by using profits in transactions not yet closed, and consequently not yet in hand, as margin for additional buying or selling in the next transaction.
to increase gradually, as with the completion of each phase:
Our problems are beginning to pyramid.
verb (used with object)
to arrange in the form of a pyramid.
to raise or increase (costs, wages, etc.) by adding amounts gradually.
to cause to increase at a steady and progressive rate:
New overseas markets have pyramided the company's profits.
Stock Exchange. (in speculating on margin) to operate in, or employ in, pyramiding.
Origin of pyramid
1350-1400; < Latin pȳramid- (stem of pȳramis) < Greek pȳramís; replacing Middle English pyramis < Latin, as above
Related forms
pyramidlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pyramid
  • The first, at right, is a pea or bean pyramid made from pruned branches that otherwise would have gone into the fire.
  • Cover with sauce, continuing until fish and sauce are used, shaping in pyramid form.
  • The fibers run forward through the medulla oblongata, and emerge in the antero-lateral sulcus between the pyramid and the olive.
  • He was encased in a pyramid of poplar branches, the top of which was adorned with a royal crown of branches and flowers.
  • The structure of the world economy more accurately resembles a pyramid or a cone rather than a plane.
  • Today the foundation of our medical pyramid is drugs and surgery.
  • Low-wage jobs have always been part of the economic landscape, the same way every pyramid has a base.
  • She knew she was bound for the sharp end of the pyramid, and was merely practicing her royal manners.
  • It's lonely at the top of the pyramid, and at every step up more is lost than is gained.
  • Obelisks are tall, tapered stone pillars ending in a pyramid-shaped point.
British Dictionary definitions for pyramid


a huge masonry construction that has a square base and, as in the case of the ancient Egyptian royal tombs, four sloping triangular sides
an object, formation, or structure resembling such a construction
(maths) a solid having a polygonal base and triangular sides that meet in a common vertex
(crystallog) a crystal form in which three planes intersect all three axes of the crystal
(anatomy) any pointed or cone-shaped bodily structure or part
(finance) a group of enterprises containing a series of holding companies structured so that the top holding company controls the entire group with a relatively small proportion of the total capital invested
(mainly US) the series of transactions involved in pyramiding securities
(pl) a game similar to billiards with fifteen coloured balls
to build up or be arranged in the form of a pyramid
(mainly US) to speculate in (securities or property) by increasing purchases on additional margin or collateral derived from paper profits associated with high prices of securities and property in a boom
(finance) to form (companies) into a pyramid
Derived Forms
pyramidal (pɪˈræmɪdəl), pyramidical, pyramidic, adjective
pyramidally, pyramidically, adverb
Word Origin
C16 (earlier pyramis): from Latin pyramis, from Greek puramis, probably from Egyptian
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pyramid

1550s (earlier in Latin form piramis, late 14c.), from French pyramide (Old French piramide "obelisk, stela," 12c.), from Latin pyramides, plural of pyramis "one of the pyramids of Egypt," from Greek pyramis (plural pyramides) "a pyramid," apparently an alteration of Egyptian pimar "pyramid." Financial sense is from 1911. Related: Pyramidal.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pyramid in Medicine

pyramid pyr·a·mid (pĭr'ə-mĭd)

  1. A solid figure with a polygonal base and triangular faces that meet at a common point.

  2. A structure or part shaped like a pyramid.

py·ram'i·dal (pĭ-rām'ĭ-dl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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