Meaning of “parallel” in the English Dictionary

"parallel" in British English

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uk /ˈpær.ə.lel/ us /ˈper.ə.lel/

parallel adjective (POSITION)

If two or more lines, streets, etc. are parallel, the distance between them is the same all along their length:

Draw a pair of parallel lines.
Hills Road is parallel to Mill Road.

More examples

  • The two roads are parallel.
  • The river is parallel to Green Street.

parallel adjective (SIMILAR)

C2 used to describe an event or situation that happens at the same time as and/or is similar to another one:

a parallel example
Parallel experiments are being conducted in Rome, Paris and London.


uk /ˈpær.ə.lel/ us /ˈper.ə.lel/

parallel noun (SIMILARITY)

C2 [ C ] something very similar to something else, or a similarity between two things:

I'm trying to see if there are any obvious parallels between the two cases.
It would be easy to draw (= make) a parallel between the city's history and that of its theatres.
have no parallel also be without parallel

If something has no parallel or is without parallel, there is nothing similar to it or of the same high quality as it:

These beautiful African churches have no parallel in Europe.

More examples

  • There are definite parallels between the two situations.
  • She drew a parallel between my situation and hers.
  • There are a number of parallels between the two incidents.
  • His situation is unique - there are no parallels in contemporary society.
  • The parallels with another very famous case are plain to see.

parallel noun (POSITION)

parallel (line)

a line that is always at the same distance from another line

one of a number of imaginary lines around the earth always at the same distance from the equator:

Cambridge lies near the 52nd parallel.
in parallel specialized

If two or more parts of an electrical system are in parallel, they are arranged in a way that means they both receive the same amount of electricity.


parallelverb [ T ]

uk /ˈpær.ə.lel/ us /ˈper.ə.lel/


uk /ˈpær.ə.lel/ us /ˈper.ə.lel/

(Definition of “parallel” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"parallel" in American English

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us /ˈpær·əˌlel, -ləl/

parallel adjective (POSITION)

geometry [ not gradable ] (of two or more straight lines) being the same distance apart along all their length:

The wood was marked with parallel dark bands.

parallel adjective (SIMILARITY)

similar or matching:

Parallel experiments are being conducted in Europe and the United States.
adverb [ not gradable ] us /ˈpær·əˌlel, -ləl/

Maple Street runs parallel to State Street.
verb [ T ] us /ˈpær·əˌlel, -ləl/

The highway parallels the river for about 20 miles.

parallelnoun [ C ]

us /ˈpær·əˌlel, -ləl/

parallel noun [ C ] (SIMILARITY)

something very similar to something else, or a similarity between two things:

There’s an incredible parallel between the talking blues of 50 years ago and today’s rap music.
The black experience in America has been without parallel in the experience of other peoples.

parallel noun [ C ] (POSITION)

earth science one of the imaginary latitude lines around the earth that are parallel to the equator:

the 40th parallel
verb [ T ] us /ˈpær·əˌlel, -ləl/

Her account of the incident closely parallels what others have reported.

(Definition of “parallel” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"parallel" in Business English

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uk /ˈpærəlel/ us

ECONOMICS, COMMERCE used to describe products that are bought in one country in an unofficial way and then sold more cheaply than usual in a different country:

Brandowners are not entirely opposed to parallel trade.
The government has adopted a labelling policy which requires distributors of parallel goods to label the origins of the goods.

IT involving two or more computer processes happening at one time:

Groups of workstations act in parallel.

(Definition of “parallel” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)