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My high school teacher used to say, "No, the world is not round it is globular". Strictly speaking, is round more appropriately used to describe 2-dimensional objects (circle, oval, tire, plate or saucer) and globular, spherical or even cylindrical better for 3-dimensional objects (ball, egg, tube, pint glass or the earth). Or are we just dealing with a persnickety high school teacher?

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Sounds like pedantry to me. When saying a table has 'rounded corners', for example, no-one seriously thinks of the table's third dimension (height) as being remotely relevant to the statement. – FumbleFingers May 18 '11 at 19:50
If you want to be picky, the Earth is an oblate spheroid. You can also ask them what a 4dimensional round object would be called ! – mgb May 18 '11 at 20:37
@Martin: a 4-dimensional round object is apparently called a 3-sphere or glome: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N-sphere – Steve Melnikoff May 18 '11 at 23:05
So, if you don't believe the earth is an oblate spheroid but still imagine it as a plate with water falling off the edges, you could still say the world is round...? I think my head's imploding. >_< – deceze May 19 '11 at 1:51
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Persnickety. Round is commonly used to describe spherical objects:


2 . Spherical; shaped like a ball; having a circular cross-section in more than one direction.


19 . any round shape, as a circle, ring or sphere.


1 . a. Being such that every part of the surface or the circumference is equidistant from the center: a round ball.

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+1: to me "round" is a more vague word than "circular" so using it for a sphere or a slightly non-spherical spheroid etc is fine unless the context is geometry or something else very technical. – hippietrail May 19 '11 at 12:27

Merriam-Webster defines round as:

having every part of the surface or circumference equidistant from the center

It sounds to me like a sphere would fit that definition nicely.

It's possible that math or geometry specialists might define round as only applying to two-dimensional objects, but that usage would be properly considered jargon, rather than common English.

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1 the earth is not round, A circle is round(1d), a ball is round or spheric(2d). The earth is flatten at the poles sow round or spheric do not fully describe that shape

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