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Oblong Or Rectangle?


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Is there a maths wizz out there who can give me the latest on this old chestnut, please? Last time I asked a numeracy consultant, I was told that we were supposed to explain that a rectangle was a shape with 4 right angles and therefore could be either an oblong or a square. Is that still right, or is oblong met with sharp intakes of breath as it once was?

Thanks,

Tracylu :o

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Ahah that old chestnut. Glad you found that answer, its always one of those tricky ones where many books still use the term rectangle, but I have noticed more now using the word oblong. I always explain it in the way described in your link, that a square and an oblong are 'special' rectangles. The clue is in the word... 'long' indicating that the oblong has longer and shorter sides.

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This is a problem isn't it as we are used to using rectangle for a shape with two sides longer that the other two, and square for a shape with all four sides the same length? A rectangle is a shape with 4 ninety degree angles, so a square and what we call a rectangle are both rectangles. An oblong has two sides longer than the other two sides, but still has 4 ninety degree angles. We are used to using the term square for a shape with all sides all the same length which is correct, and rectangle for two sides long and two sides short, when actually that is an oblong. I suppose we go for custom and practice now, as that is what everyone is used to :o. It seems to me that it would have been simpler if some time ago this was sorted out, instead of allowed to establish itself in this way.

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After a discussion about this with another member, I decided to post my understanding as I tend to make things as simple as possible to understand. I'm told this is a strong point of mine and why people always come to me with their computer problems as I explain everything so simply!

 

As I understand it a rectangle is a 4 sided shape with 4 90 degree angles and 2 sets of parallell lines in it so both a square and an oblong are rectangles and any other 4 sided shape is a quadrilateral.

 

Rectangles are a collective term for both squares and oblongs but has been recently just been used to describe oblongs rather than them being a collective term.

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After a discussion about this with another member, I decided to post my understanding as I tend to make things as simple as possible to understand. I'm told this is a strong point of mine and why people always come to me with their computer problems as I explain everything so simply!

And as a supplement to this, I asked Nichola if we should be using 'oblong' and 'square' so as not to confuse children later, and tell them that both squares and oblongs can be rectangles. She offered this analogy: think of trousers. You can have boot cuts, skinny leg and flared legs. But they are all trousers! :o Somehow I'm much better when I can think of trousers rather than mathematical descriptions of shapes (or slices of Mars bars when working out fractions!)

 

Thanks, Nichola. Whenever I see an oblong standing on its short side I shall think of you and skinny legged jeans! xD

 

Maz

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Just to throw a spanner in - did you spot that other post on the link I found above that says an ellipse is also an oblong? :o

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Well I asked google

 

ob·long (blông, -lng)

adj.

1. Deviating from a square, circular, or spherical form by being elongated in one direction.

2. Having the shape of or resembling a rectangle or an ellipse.

3. Botany Having a somewhat elongated form with approximately parallel sides: an oblong leaf.

n.

An object or figure, such as a rectangle, with an elongated shape.

 

Well back to the jeans!

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Well if we can't get it right there isn't much hope for the children is there?

My children are all doomed, then Jacquie! xD

 

Nothing in maths is ever as straightforward as it would seem. Is it just an urban myth or did some clever mathematician once prove that if parallel lines are elongated long enough they actually touch? Or is that just the product of my own warped mind? :o

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