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From Modern Latin trajectorium, from trajectorius (of or pertaining to throwing across), from Latin traiectus (thrown over or across), past participle of traicere, from Latin trans (across, beyond) (see trans-) + icere, combining form of iacere (to throw) (from PIE root *ye- "to throw, impel"). Middle French and Middle English had trajectorie as "end of a funnel", from Latin traiectorium.


  • IPA(key): /tɹəˈdʒɛktəɹɪ/
  • (file)


trajectory (plural trajectories)

  1. (astronomy, space science) The path of a body as it travels through space.
  2. (cybernetics) The ordered set of intermediate states assumed by a dynamical system as a result of time evolution.
  3. Metaphorically, a course of development, such as that of a war or career.
    • 2013 March 1, Harold J. Morowitz, “The Smallest Cell”, in American Scientist[1], volume 101, number 2, page 83:
      It is likely that the long evolutionary trajectory of Mycoplasma went from a reductive autotroph to oxidative heterotroph to a cell-wall–defective degenerate parasite. This evolutionary trajectory assumes the simplicity to complexity route of biogenesis, a point of view that is not universally accepted.

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Related terms[edit]

  • (cybernetics): run