Skip to Content

Oblong vs Oval: What Are The Differences & Which To Use?

Oblong vs Oval: What Are The Differences & Which To Use?

Usually, people can mistakenly use the term oblong and oval to refer to the same thing. Even though these two terms can explain the outline of a figure, such as the shape of your face, they have different characteristics.

The difference between "oblong" and "oval" is that an oval defines a specific spherical shape elongated on both sides. In contrast, "oblong" is a broader term that describes any shape with a stretched appearance. 

So we can better understand the difference, let's break out the definition of each term and understand their characteristics. We will think about some daily life objects and figures, such as your face shape, to better exemplify each term.

Definition Of Oblong

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, oblong can be used both as an adjective or as a noun.

As an adjective, oblong means "deviating from a square, circular, or spherical form by elongation in one dimension." Oblong defines an object that is longer than wider. In other words, it is an object that is longer than other objects of the same family.

  • Oblong faces are more attractive.
  • My mom bought an oblong tablecloth for her new table.
  • "The oblong box" is a book written by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Her boyfriend bought her a big oblong gem.
  • Churches usually have oblong roofs.
  • Oblong toilet seats are the most common toilet seat shapes.
  • Alanis Morissette's hairstyle highlights her oblong face.

oblong word in dictionary

As a noun, the definition of oblong is "a rectangular object or flat figure with unequal adjacent sides."

  • Rulers are considered oblongs.
  • Laptops, tablets, and flat TVs are oblongs of different sizes.
  • A rectangle can be defined as an oblong; however, not all oblongs are rectangles.
  • Twelve is an oblong number.
  • Pronomic numbers are called oblong.

In math, oblong numbers (also called rectangular numbers) are "the numbers of dots that can be placed in rows and columns in a rectangular array, each row containing one more dot than each column."

History And Etymology

The word oblong comes from Latin oblongus, "more long than broad." It is built from ob "in front of; towards" + longus "long." The first known use of the word oblong as an adjective was in the early 15th century. The first use of oblong as a noun, "an oblong figure," was in 1590.

multicolored ovals

Synonyms And Near Synonyms

extensive, longish, elongated, outstretched, biggish, largish, overscale, oversize, extended, lengthy, long, elliptical

Antonyms And Near Antonyms

brief, curt, short, shortish, abbreviated, abridged, curtailed, smallish, teeny, tiny, undersized, bitty.

Examples Of Oblong Shapes

  • Oblong Faces

The oblong-shaped face is a large face with narrow width. These faces are elongated and narrowed and don't have rounded cheeks. A person with these facial features can also have a large forehead and pointed chin. The famous Canadian rock star Alanis Morissette comes to my mind when speaking about oblong faces.

  • Tablecloths

Oblong tablecloths are very popular because they increase the aesthetic value of a room.

  • Coffins

People are usually buried and transported in oblong boxes.

  • Rectangle

A rectangle is a parallelogram with four right angles. It has a set of parallel sides longer than the other sides.

  • Ovals

Ovals are considered oblong shapes because they are elongated circular forms that fall within the definition of oblong. They are deemed egg-like shapes.

  • Medulla oblongata

It is a long stem-like neuronal mass responsible for involuntary functions of our body, located in the lower part of the brainstem.

  • Rulers

Rulers are rectangular-shaped objects.

  • Oblong leaf

Any leaf that is rounded at both ends and has parallel sides. The California coffeeberry plant has oblong-shaped elongated leaves.

Definition Of Oval

As an adjective, oval is used to describe an elliptical shape with the form of an egg. One can say that an oval can be considered an oblong or an elongated round shape.

  • I found a rare oval stone at the river last weekend.
  • She was a beautiful Korean girl with an oval-shaped face.
  • Some people think that the earth is oval and not round.
  • He fell in love with her green oval eyes.
  • The concert will be in the oval public arena of the Colonial Zone.
  • Japanese have eyes that are oval in shape.

The noun "oval" is defined as "an oval figure or object," "a racetrack in the shape of an oval or a rectangle having rounded corners."

  • The Oval is the formal working office of the United States president.
  • Adelaide Oval is a sports field located in Australia.
  • The Oval, also called Kia Oval, is a well-known cricket ground in London.
  • President Biden was in The Oval during the violent riot attack against the U.S. Congress.

History And Etymology

People first used the term "oval" in the 1570s— formed by Medieval Latin ovalis "egg-shaped."

Synonyms And Near Synonyms

Egg, ellipse, loop, spheroid, ball, globe, sphere, globule, roundel.

Antonyms And Near Antonyms

block, cube, rectangle, square

Oval Shaped Objects You See In Daily Life

  • Egg

The term oval comes from the Latin word "ovum.". Eggs, therefore, are the perfect example of an oval-shaped object.

  • American Football

American football is another clear example of an oval-shaped object. Curiously, American football differs from other sports balls because of its roundish shape. In the late 1800s, players were using a "semi-round" ball made from an inflated pig's bladder. However, it was hard to inflate and manage. They needed a manageable version, and they created the oval football. This oval-shaped football has a reason. It makes the ball more aerodynamic, and the pointed ends make it easier to grab it with one hand.

  • Badminton Racket

Some modern badminton racquets have an oval-head shape. It makes the racket sweet spot hit with more power.

  • Balloon

Most of the inflated balloons are perfect examples of oval-shaped objects. This shape makes it easier for us to inflate it.

  • Watermelon

We can find watermelon in different shapes. However, it's common to see oval-shaped watermelons.

  • Mirror

Some mirrors have an oval shape. They look stylish and make it easier for us to see our facial features.

  • Oval Face

Some faces can also be considered oval-shaped. The Oval-shaped face is longer than wider with a slightly rounded jaw. For a man, it is considered an attractive face characteristic. If your face looks like an oval, you probably have the following features:

  1. The width of your forehead is smaller than the width of your cheekbones.
  2. The widest part of your face is the cheekbones.
  3. You have no sharp angles on your jaw or chin.
  4. Your face is longer than it is wide.
  • Pills

Oval pills are very common because it's easier to swallow them.

  • Racetrack

Racetracks are facilities used for car race, running competitions.

  • Solar System

Planets orbit the sun in oval-shaped paths called ellipses.

Final Thoughts

We have learned that oblong is a broader term to describe an object or figure that is longer than wider. It usually refers to shapes that are an extended or stretched version of the original form. Since an oval is a larger spheric form it can be considered an oblong-shaped object. However, not all oblongs are spherical, and they should not be used as synonyms. We can say that oval is a term that is within the classification of oblong-shaped forms, but it can only be used to refer to a specific object of an egg appearance pattern. While writing this article, Grammarly suggested replacing the word oblong because "even the most knowledgeable people" don't use it that much. Surprisingly, we have seen that the term oblong can describe many objects used in our daily life.