Whenever I hear a word that I’m unsure about, I like to find out as much as I can about it, make up sentences in my mind and then try to explain it to others. After looking up the word exponential at lunchtime, I have been playing around with it in my head and the best way that I can explain it is that if something is rising exponentially, it is rising at an increasing rate. (Note: exponentially is the adverb).
One of the meanings of exponential, according to Merriam-Webster online dictionaries, is “of or relating to an exponent” so I thought it would be useful to define exponent first. Here are the two Merriam-Webster definitions:
- An exponent is “one that champions, practices, or exemplifies” (therefore someone could be an exponent).
- An exponent also refers to the symbol written above and to the right of a number, for example, “the exponent ‘3’ in 103 indicates 10 x 10 x 10”.
Back to the word exponential
Exponential means rapidly increasing (as in size or extent). Also, as indicated above, an exponential expression would be 103.
Now for some example sentences
- There has been an exponential rise in the cost of fuel
- I was shocked at the exponential growth of the company since last year
- After Suzie posted her blog last night, the number of readers rose exponentially
Your Dictionary.com lists many other sentences.
My thoughts: Although I have heard the word exponential mentioned a few times recently in phrases about ‘company growth’ and ‘rising prices’, it’s not a word that I have used in my vocabulary (yet!). I quite like the sound of it though.