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Drawing a spline.
Wooden box with splines of dark wood visible at the corner joints. See the close-up of a spline.


Mid-1700s East Anglian dialect. Origin uncertain but perhaps from Old Danish splind or North Frisian splinj and ultimately related to the root of splinter.


  • IPA(key): /splaɪn/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪn


spline (plural splines)

  1. Long thin piece of metal or wood. [from the mid 18th c]
  2. A rectangular piece that fits grooves like key seats in a hub and a shaft, so that while the one may slide endwise on the other, both must revolve together.
  3. A flexible strip of metal or other material, that may be bent into a curve and used in a similar manner to a ruler to draw smooth curves between points.
  4. (mathematics, computing) Any of a number of smooth curves used to join points.
  5. (woodworking) A strip of wood or other material inserted into grooves in each of two pieces of wood to provide additional surface for gluing.
  6. (mechanics) Ridges or teeth on a drive shaft that mesh with grooves in a mating piece and transfer torque to it, maintaining the angular correspondence between them.

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spline (third-person singular simple present splines, present participle splining, simple past and past participle splined)

  1. (mathematics, computing) To smooth (a curve or surface) by means of a spline.
  2. (engineering) To fit with a spline.
    • 1965 August, Popular Science, volume 187, number 2, page 133:
      Machining a straight spline with a lathe. Sometimes the task of splining a shaft comes up during a repair. Instead of sending out the job, use this setup to mill the splines on a lathe.
  3. (engineering) To fasten to or together with a spline.
    • 1935 September, Popular Mechanics, volume 64, number 3, page 408:
      Engineers did not think two crankshafts could be synchronized. Wood, by splining the shafts in each gear box, proved it could be done.
    • 2004, Jack Erjavec, TechOne automatic transmissions, page 311:
      These packs can be holding or driving devices, depending on what they are splined to.
    • 2011, Mark Savitske, How to Make Your Muscle Car Handle, page 85:
      Splined bars are a big recent trend. Originally used in racing, the idea is to have a straight torsion bar with the ends splined like an axle and separate arms that fit on each end to mount the end links

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