1753, from French ellipse (17c.), from Latin ellipsis "ellipse," also, "a falling short, deficit," from Greek elleipsis (see ellipsis). So called because the conic section of the cutting plane makes a smaller angle with the base than does the side of the cone, hence, a "falling short." The Greek word was first applied by Apollonius of Perga (3c. B.C.E.). to the curve which previously had been called the section of the acute-angled cone, but the word earlier had been technically applied to a rectangle one of whose sides coincides with a part of a given line (Euclid, VI. 27).
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