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Oval vs. Elliptical: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 8, 2023
Oval is a rounded shape resembling an egg, while Elliptical relates to ellipses, having a flattened circle shape or being intentionally vague in communication.

Key Differences

An Oval typically refers to a shape that appears as a flattened circle and often resembles the shape of an egg. In many contexts, the term "oval" is used to describe shapes that are not strictly geometric but have a general rounded and elongated form. On the other hand, Elliptical primarily relates to ellipses in geometry. An ellipse has two focal points, and it's a closed curve where the sum of distances from these focal points to any point on the curve remains constant.
While Ovals can be seen as a subset of ellipses, not all ovals conform to the strict geometric definition of an ellipse. This means that while all ellipses are ovals, not all ovals are necessarily ellipses. Contrarily, Elliptical can also refer to a manner of speaking or writing that's purposely ambiguous, indirect, or vague. This usage is far removed from its geometric implications.
Ovals are prevalent in everyday life, from the shapes of racetracks to mirrors and picture frames. They're often chosen for their aesthetic appeal and rounded nature. On the contrary, Elliptical can describe physical shapes, like an elliptical orbit in astronomy, where a celestial body moves around another in an elongated circle. Moreover, elliptical trainers in gyms mimic the natural elliptical motion of the foot when walking or running.
Furthermore, while the word "oval" is predominantly used to describe shapes, "elliptical" has broader applications in language, astronomy, and fitness. This diversity in usage makes "elliptical" a more multifaceted term compared to "oval."

Comparison Chart

Primary Definition

A shape resembling an egg.
Relates to ellipses; flattened circle.


Not always strictly an ellipse.
Always refers to a true ellipse.

Usage Outside Geometry

Predominantly shape-related.
Can refer to vague communication.


Racetracks, frames.
Elliptical orbits, elliptical trainers.


General term for a rounded shape.
Specific in geometric context.

Oval and Elliptical Definitions


A shape resembling an egg.
The mirror had a perfect oval shape.


Relating to or having the shape of an ellipse.
The table had an elliptical design, broader at the center.


A flattened circular form.
The pond was almost a perfect oval.


Having an oval shape with two identical axes.
The stadium had an elliptical structure.


An elliptic shape without two distinct focal points.
The garden was laid out in an oval pattern.


Ambiguous or intentionally vague in speech or writing.
His reply was elliptical, leaving everyone guessing his intent.


Elongated circle with a broader and narrower end.
The racetrack was oval, making it challenging at both ends.


Involving or relating to ellipsis in language.
Her elliptical writing style often left out unnecessary words.


A rounded, elongated form.
Her face had a gentle oval shape.


Relating to ellipses in geometry.
The math problem required drawing an elliptical curve.


Resembling an egg in shape.


Of, relating to, or having the shape of an ellipse.


Resembling an ellipse in shape; elliptical.


Containing or characterized by ellipsis.


An egg-shaped or elliptical form or figure.


Of or relating to extreme economy of oral or written expression.


An elliptical track, as for racing or athletic events.


Marked by deliberate obscurity of style or expression.


An elongated round shape resembling an egg or ellipse. Category:en:Curves


In a shape of, or reminding of, an ellipse; oval.


A thing having such a shape, such as an arena.


Of, or showing ellipsis; having a word or words omitted.


(math) In a projective plane, a set of points such that no three are collinear and there is a unique tangent line at each point.


(of speech) Concise, condensed.


(AU) A sports field, typically but not exclusively oval in shape.




Having the shape of an oval.


(astronomy) An elliptical galaxy.


Of or pertaining to an ovum.
Oval conceptions


An elliptical trainer.


Of or pertaining to eggs; done in the egg, or inception; as, oval conceptions.


Containing or characterized by ellipsis;
The clause of comparison is often elliptical


Having the figure of an egg; oblong and curvilinear, with one end broader than the other, or with both ends of about the same breadth; in popular usage, elliptical.


Rounded like an egg


Broadly elliptical.


Characterized by extreme economy of expression or omission of superfluous elements;
The dialogue is elliptic and full of dark hints
The explanation was concise, even elliptical to the verge of obscurity


A body or figure in the shape of an egg, or popularly, of an ellipse.


A closed plane curve resulting from the intersection of a circular cone and a plane cutting completely through it;
The sums of the distances from the foci to any point on an ellipse is constant


Rounded like an egg


Are Ovals always symmetric?

Ovals can be symmetric, but they might also have a broader and narrower end.

Is an Oval strictly a geometric term?

While often used in a geometric context, it can also describe general rounded shapes.

Are all Ovals identical in shape?

No, ovals can vary in their degree of elongation and roundness.

Is the term Elliptical exclusive to geometry?

No, it can also describe communication, astronomy, and more.

Can Oval refer to a 3D object?

Yes, like an "oval ball," but it mainly describes a 2D shape.

Can Elliptical relate to exercise equipment?

Yes, an elliptical trainer in gyms mimics the elliptical motion of the foot.

What does an elliptical orbit imply?

It implies a celestial body moving in an elongated circle around another body.

Are racetracks always Oval?

While many are, not all racetracks are oval in shape.

Is an Oval always a perfect ellipse?

No, while all ellipses are ovals, not all ovals are strictly ellipses.

What's an elliptical sentence?

It's a sentence where some words, often clear from context, are omitted.

Are the two axes of an Elliptical shape always of different lengths?

Yes, that's what differentiates it from a circle.

Can Elliptical refer to a manner of speaking?

Yes, it can mean being intentionally vague or ambiguous.

Can an Oval have sharp corners?

No, an oval is characterized by its rounded nature.

Why is vague communication called "elliptical"?

It derives from "ellipsis," meaning the omission of words or parts.

Can Elliptical refer to a type of lens?

Yes, especially when describing its overall shape.

What is the Oval Office?

It's the working office of the U.S. president, named for its shape.

Does Oval always mean larger in one dimension?

Generally, yes; it's elongated in one direction compared to a circle.

Do Oval shapes exist in nature?

Yes, many natural forms, like certain leaves and fruits, are oval.

Can an Elliptical shape be perfect?

In geometry, it follows specific criteria, but "perfect" is subjective.

Is an Elliptical orbit a perfect circle?

No, it's an elongated circle with two distinct focal points.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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