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[kat-n-er-ee; especially British kuh-tee-nuh-ree] /ˈkæt nˌɛr i; especially British kəˈti nə ri/
noun, plural catenaries.
Mathematics. the curve assumed approximately by a heavy uniform cord or chain hanging freely from two points not in the same vertical line. Equation: y = k cos h (x / k).
(in electric railroads) the cable, running above the track, from which the trolley wire is suspended.
of, relating to, or resembling a catenary.
of or relating to a chain or linked series.
1780-90; < Latin catēnārius relating to a chain, equivalent to catēn(a) a chain + -ārius -ary Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for catenary
  • Much of the book is about their practical problems-thrust lines, the catenary curve and groin vaulting.
  • New construction consists of installation of a new catenary lightning protection system and counterpoise system.
  • The catenary suspension strand is usually attached to the cable suspension strand by means of cable suspension hooks.
  • Poles touch the catenary wires and provide electricity directly to the bus's electric propulsion system.
British Dictionary definitions for catenary


noun (pl) -ries
the curve assumed by a heavy uniform flexible cord hanging freely from two points. When symmetrical about the y-axis and intersecting it at y = a, the equation is y = a cosh x/a
the hanging cable between pylons along a railway track, from which the trolley wire is suspended
of, resembling, relating to, or constructed using a catenary or suspended chain
Word Origin
C18: from Latin catēnārius relating to a chain
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 catenary

1872, from Latin catenarius "relating to a chain," from catenanus "chained, fettered," from catena "chain, fetter, shackle" (see chain (n.)). As a noun from 1788 in mathematics. Related: Catenarian.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for catenary

in mathematics, a curve that describes the shape of a flexible hanging chain or cable-the name derives from the Latin catenaria ("chain"). Any freely hanging cable or string assumes this shape, also called a chainette, if the body is of uniform mass per unit of length and is acted upon solely by gravity.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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