asymptote

[as-im-toht]
noun Mathematics.
a straight line approached by a given curve as one of the variables in the equation of the curve approaches infinity.

Origin:
1650–60; < Greek asýmptōtos, equivalent to a- a-6 + sýmptōtos falling together (sym- sym- + ptōtós falling, derivative of ptō-, variant stem of píptein to fall + -tos verbid suffix)

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World English Dictionary
asymptote (ˈæsɪmˌtəʊt)
 
n
a straight line that is closely approached by a plane curve so that the perpendicular distance between them decreases to zero as the distance from the origin increases to infinity
 
[C17: from Greek asumptōtos not falling together, from a-1 + syn- + ptōtos inclined to fall, from piptein to fall]

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

asymptote
"straight line continually approaching but never meeting a curve," 1650s, from Gk. asymptotos "not falling together," from a- "not" + syn "with" + ptotos "fallen," verbal adj. from piptein "to fall" (see petition). Related: Asymptotic (1670s).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
asymptote   (ās'ĭm-tōt')  Pronunciation Key 


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A line whose distance to a given curve tends to zero. An asymptote may or may not intersect its associated curve.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The miss distance is illustrated for the more distant flyby and is the separation of the asymptote from the planet's center.
Therefore, launch at any other time would be targeted to a slightly non-optimal asymptote.
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