Lines and Slope || Chameleon Home || Ask Dr. Math

Glossary

Axis
Camouflage
Chameleon
Equation
Horizontal
Intercept
Intersect
Line
Line Segment
Origin
Parallel
Perpendicular
Point
Slope
Undefined
Vertical

Axis

An axis is a line that we use to find points and other lines. If we want to talk about more than one axis, we say "axes."

In the plane, we use two axes called the x-axis and the y-axis. Here is a picture:

The x-axis has equation y = 0, and the y-axis has equation x = 0.

Camouflage

When you camouflage yourself, you change to match your surroundings. For example, you might cover your face with mud and put leaves in your hair so that you could hide in a forest. Soldiers often wear clothing that camouflages them.

Chameleon

A chameleon is a type of lizard. Chameleons have long, sticky tongues for catching bugs. They can change color to warm up or cool off, and to camouflage themselves. Chameleons also change color when they are angry or scared.

Chameleons can move one eye without moving the other. This makes it easy for them to keep track of their surroundings.

Equation

An equation shows that two things are equal. For example, the equation x = 8 tells you that x and 8 have the same value.

Horizontal

A horizontal line is completely flat. This line is horizontal:

Intercept

A line's x-intercept is the place that it crosses the x-axis, and its y-intercept is the place that it crosses the y-axis. You might think of the line catching an axis, as if it were intercepting a ball.

Intersect

When two lines cross each other, we say that they intersect. This is the same idea as the intersection of two roads.

Line

In geometry, lines are always straight. Lines are one-dimensional, and they go on forever in both directions. Here is a picture of a line:

(The arrows are supposed to show that the line continues forever.)

Line Segment

Part of a line is called a line segment. Here is a picture:

The dots stand for the points at each end of the segment. If the points at each end aren't included, we use circles instead of dots:

Origin

The origin is the point (0, 0).

Parallel

Two lines are parallel if they never meet. Here is a picture of two parallel lines:

Perpendicular

Two lines are perpendicular if their intersection has a 90° angle, like the corner of a square. These two lines are perpendicular:

Point

A point is one location in space. Points are zero-dimensional.

Slope

Slope is a number that shows how steeply a line slants. We often use the letter m to stand for a line's slope.

Undefined

In math, we call something undefined when we can't think of a description that makes sense. For example, 6/2 is a number that you can multiply by two to get six:

6/2 = 3
2*3 = 6.

Vertical

Vertical lines point straight up and down. This line is vertical:

A vertical line always has the same x-coordinate, which we'll call a. This means that the line's equation is x = a.