[kat-n-er-ee; especially British kuh-tee-nuh-ree]
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, pertaining to, or resembling a catenary.
of or pertaining 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. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
catenary (kəˈtiːnərɪ)
n , pl -ries
1.  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
2.  the hanging cable between pylons along a railway track, from which the trolley wire is suspended
3.  of, resembling, relating to, or constructed using a catenary or suspended chain
[C18: from Latin catēnārius relating to a chain]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1788, from L. catenanus, from catena "chain" (see chain).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


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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Example sentences
Much of the book is about their practical problems-thrust lines, the catenary curve and groin vaulting.
Poles touch the catenary wires and provide electricity directly to the bus's electric propulsion system.
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.
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