a constant or variable term in a function that determines the specific form of the function but not its general nature, as a in f (x ) = ax, where a determines only the slope of the line described by f (x ).
one of the independent variables in a set of parametric equations.
Statistics. a variable entering into the mathematical form of any distribution such that the possible values of the variable correspond to different distributions.
Computers. a variable that must be given a specific value during the execution of a program or of a procedure within a program.
Usually, parameters. limits or boundaries; guidelines: the basic parameters of our foreign policy.
characteristic or factor; aspect; element: a useful parameter for judging long-term success.

1650–60; < Neo-Latin parametrum. See para-1, -meter

parametric [par-uh-me-trik] , parametrical, adjective

1. boundary, limit, parameter, variable (see synonym study at boundary)(see usage note at the current entry) ; 2. parameter, perimeter.

4, 5. Some object strongly to the use of parameter in these newer senses. Nevertheless, the criticized uses are now well established both in educated speech and in edited writing. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To parameters
World English Dictionary
parameter (pəˈræmɪtə)
1.  See parametric equations one of a number of auxiliary variables in terms of which all the variables in an implicit functional relationship can be explicitly expressed
2.  a variable whose behaviour is not being considered and which may for present purposes be regarded as a constant, as y in the partial derivative ∂f(x,y)/∂x
3.  statistics Compare statistic a characteristic of the distribution of a population, such as its mean, as distinct from that of a sample
4.  informal any constant or limiting factor: a designer must work within the parameters of budget and practicality
[C17: from New Latin; see para-1, -meter]

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

1656, from Mod.L. parameter (1631), from Gk. para- "beside, subsidiary" + metron "measure" (see meter (2)). A geometry term until 1920s when it yielded sense of "measurable factor which helps to define a particular system" (1927). Common modern meaning (infl. by perimeter)
of "boundary, limit, characteristic factor" is from 1950s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

parameter pa·ram·e·ter (pə-rām'ĭ-tər)

  1. One of a set of measurable factors, such as temperature and pressure, that define a system and determine its behavior and are varied in an experiment.

  2. A factor that determines a range of variations; a boundary.

  3. A statistical quantity, such as a mean or standard deviation of a total population, that is calculated from data and describes a characteristic of the population as opposed to a sample from the population.

  4. A psychoanalytic tactic, other than interpretation, used by the analyst to further the patient's progress.

  5. A factor that restricts what is possible or what results. Not in technical use.

  6. A distinguishing characteristic or feature. Not in technical use.

par'a·met'ric (pār'ə-mět'rĭk) or par'a·met'ri·cal adj.
par'a·met'ri·cal·ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
parameter [(puh-ram-uh-tuhr)]

A quantity or number on which some other quantity or number depends. An informal example is, “Depending on the traffic, it takes me between twenty minutes and an hour to drive to work”; here, “traffic” is the parameter that determines the time it takes to get to work. In statistics, a parameter is an unknown characteristic of a population — for example, the number of women in a particular precinct who will vote Democratic.

Note: The term is often mistakenly used to refer to the limits of possible values a variable can have because of confusion with the word perimeter.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
Practice parameters for the treatment of narcolepsy and other hypersomnias of
  central origin.
Parameters can be adjusted and new methods of asking important questions about
  student outcomes can be developed.
Even if the details are fuzzy, the broad parameters of it seem clear.
As a consequence, its exact orbital parameters are still not known.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature