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[sim-i-tree] /ˈsɪm ɪ tri/
noun, plural symmetries.
the correspondence in size, form, and arrangement of parts on opposite sides of a plane, line, or point; regularity of form or arrangement in terms of like, reciprocal, or corresponding parts.
the proper or due proportion of the parts of a body or whole to one another with regard to size and form; excellence of proportion.
beauty based on or characterized by such excellence of proportion.
  1. a geometrical or other regularity that is possessed by a mathematical object and is characterized by the operations that leave the object invariant:
    A circle has rotational symmetry and reflection symmetry.
  2. a rotation or translation of a plane figure that leaves the figure unchanged although its position may be altered.
Physics. a property of a physical system that is unaffected by certain mathematical transformations as, for example, the work done by gravity on an object, which is not affected by any change in the position from which the potential energy of the object is measured.
1535-45; < Latin symmetria < Greek symmetría commensurateness. See sym-, -metry
Related forms
antisymmetry, adjective, noun
nonsymmetry, noun, plural nonsymmetries.
1. consonance, concord, correspondence. Symmetry, balance, proportion, harmony are terms used, particularly in the arts, to denote qualities based upon a correspondence or agreement, usually pleasing, among the parts of a whole. Symmetry implies either a quantitative equality of parts (the perfect symmetry of pairs of matched columns ) or a unified system of subordinate parts: the symmetry of a well-ordered musical composition. Balance implies equality of parts, often as a means of emphasis: Balance in sentences may emphasize the contrast in ideas. Proportion depends less upon equality of parts than upon that agreement among them that is determined by their relation to a whole: The dimensions of the room gave a feeling of right proportion. Harmony, a technical term in music, may also suggest the pleasing quality that arises from a just ordering of parts in other forms of artistic composition: harmony of line, color, mass, phrase, ideas.
1. asymmetry. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for symmetry
  • The art would be having the eye that observes carefully and you can see balance and symmetry, shape and form.
  • Other deep issues include space-time symmetry and whether there are extra dimensions.
  • Neither of these reasons explain why there is symmetry in a spiderweb.
  • But to those who ponder the sun's tremendous energy, there's a perfect symmetry in the idea of solar cooling.
  • There are three levels at the site, with symmetry and asymmetry used to tie the areas together.
  • The initial symmetry of the snowflake results from the intrinsic molecular structure of ice.
  • The fundamental change in his thinking is to accept a new kind of symmetry in the universe.
  • When the symmetry in this relationship breaks down, the result is superconductivity.
  • Yes there is research that finds certain proportions and symmetry affecting ratings of attractiveness.
  • With pleasing symmetry the water is then channelled back to mix with the incoming methanol.
British Dictionary definitions for symmetry


noun (pl) -tries
similarity, correspondence, or balance among systems or parts of a system
(maths) an exact correspondence in position or form about a given point, line, or plane See symmetrical (sense 2)
beauty or harmony of form based on a proportionate arrangement of parts
(physics) the independence of a property with respect to direction; isotropy
Word Origin
C16: from Latin symmetria, from Greek summetria proportion, from syn- + metron measure
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 symmetry

1560s, "relation of parts, proportion," from Latin symmetria, from Greek symmetria "agreement in dimensions, due proportion, arrangement," from symmetros "having a common measure, even, proportionate," from syn- "together" (see syn-) + metron "meter" (see meter (n.2)). Meaning "harmonic arrangement of parts" first recorded 1590s. Symmetrophobia is from 1809, supposed to be evident in Egyptian temples and Japanese art.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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symmetry in Medicine

symmetry sym·me·try (sĭm'ĭ-trē)
Exact correspondence of form and constituent configuration on opposite sides of a dividing line or plane or about a center or an axis.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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symmetry in Science
  1. An exact matching of form and arrangement of parts on opposite sides of a boundary, such as a plane or line, or around a central point or axis.

  2. Physics See invariance.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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symmetry in Culture

symmetry definition

In geometry, the equivalence, point for point, of a figure on opposite sides of a point, line, or plane.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for symmetry

in biology, the repetition of the parts in an animal or plant in an orderly fashion. Specifically, symmetry refers to a correspondence of body parts, in size, shape, and relative position, on opposite sides of a dividing line or distributed around a central point or axis. With the exception of radial symmetry (see below), external form has little relation to internal anatomy, since animals of very different anatomical construction may have the same type of symmetry

Learn more about symmetry with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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