adjective Also el·lip·tic.

  1. pertaining to or having the form of an ellipse.
  2. pertaining to or marked by grammatical ellipsis.
  3. (of speech or writing) expressed with extreme or excessive economy; relieved of irrelevant matter: to converse in elliptical sentences.
  4. (of a style of speaking or writing) tending to be ambiguous, cryptic, or obscure: an elliptical prose that is difficult to translate.


  1. Astronomy. elliptical galaxy.


  1. relating to or having the shape of an ellipse
  2. relating to or resulting from ellipsis
  3. (of speech, literary style, etc)
    1. very condensed or concise, often so as to be obscure or ambiguous
    2. circumlocutory or long-winded

1726, from Greek elleiptikos “pertaining to an ellipse,” from elleipein (see ellipsis).


1650s, “elliptic in shape;” see elliptic + -al (1). Grammatical sense of “missing essential words or phrases” is recorded from 1778 (see ellipsis). Related: Elliptically.

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