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Pedants' corner

What happened to 'oblong'?

84 replies

Dilbertian · 14/02/2022 12:57

I was taught that the shape with 4 vertices, 2 long sides and 2 short sides was an oblong.

My dc are being taught that that shape is a rectangle.

I understand that rectangle is commonly used for oblong, but rectangles are shapes that have only right angles, ie squares and oblongs are both rectangles.

Shouldn't our children be taught correct mathematical language? They are being told that they must use 'vertices', not 'corners'. Why the pedantry over this aspect of mathematical language, but not over accurately labelling the shape?

OP posts:
Polyanthus2 · 14/02/2022 12:58

When did oblique become forward slash - I know which one I prefer

flyingant · 14/02/2022 13:01

I’m a primary school teacher. I agree with you and teach this myself. Some teachers don’t seem to know this though.

Dilbertian · 14/02/2022 13:02


When did oblique become forward slash - I know which one I prefer

When backslash became commonly used on internet addresses. As both are oblique it became necessary to differentiate easily between them.
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Galvantula · 14/02/2022 13:05

We didn't really have oblongs up in Scotland much. It's the sort of thing I heard on Blue Peter, so I hadn't realised it was dying out

purplecorkheart · 14/02/2022 13:08

I was thought an oblong was long sides and curved top and bottom.

marqueses · 14/02/2022 13:09


We didn't really have oblongs up in Scotland much. It's the sort of thing I heard on Blue Peter, so I hadn't realised it was dying out

I'm imagining them all being re-jigged into squares at the border GrinGrin

What have the Scots got against the oblong?
Dilbertian · 14/02/2022 13:11

Scots are experts at oblongs - they have plaids!

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WondrousAcorn · 14/02/2022 13:11

Oblong is a great word, and my parents used it when I was a child, but I don’t think it was ever used at school and I’m in my 40s.

Oblique is even better.

Soubriquet · 14/02/2022 13:13

I thought rectangle was the 2d shape and oblong is 3D shape. That’s what my dc are being taught anyway

NewYearCalavicci · 14/02/2022 13:24

I thought this to i but am willing to be told I am a uneducated oaf Blush .
If me am pp are wrong , what is a 3d version called ?

Nikki305 · 14/02/2022 13:32


eddiemairswife · 14/02/2022 13:33

A square is a rectangle with all equal sides. A 3-D rectangle is a cuboid isn't it?

Stichintime · 14/02/2022 13:34

Was taught oblong at school, but always thught the difference was an oblong had round corners, a rectangle straight corners.

chesirecat99 · 14/02/2022 13:36

I don't know but I think whatever happened to oblong happened a long time ago.

My mother taught me oblong/square/rectangle as a preschooler and I remember being "corrected" in infant school by the teacher. TBF, she did say I was correct but "we didn't use the word oblong in school". I don't think I've heard anyone use the word since.

My DC were definitely only taught squares and rectangles in primary school. I've no idea about secondary school but they all did further maths GCSE and sciences and maths to IB higher level. I've never heard them use the word to describe an oblong in day to day life, they would always say rectangle/rectangular.

Dilbertian · 14/02/2022 13:36

A 3-D rectangle is a cuboid isn't it?

We were taught rectangular prism. Though I have nothing against cuboid. It's a good word. -oid = like/resembling/approximating.

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Dilbertian · 14/02/2022 13:37

I was at primary in the 70s.

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MissyB1 · 14/02/2022 13:37

I was taught about oblongs at school I’m 53. But by the time I was about 16 and at college I was told that oblong was a childish word and rectangle was the correct label. Hmm

Lollipity · 14/02/2022 13:40

It seems to be that in the UK, an oblong is any rectangle that isn't a square, and in the US it's any shape (including 3D) that has 2 parallel sides longer than the other 2 - ends may be curved.

Jobseeker19 · 14/02/2022 13:40

I also thought that oblongs were curved at the ends (___).

Savingpeoplehuntingthings · 14/02/2022 13:40

I work in preschool. We teach oblong but say that some people call it a rectangle.

DwangelaForever · 14/02/2022 13:41

It's been a rectangle since I learnt it in the 90s Biscuit

chesirecat99 · 14/02/2022 13:42

I was at primary in the 70s/80s so I would guess from what PPs have said, poor oblongs went out of fashion sometime in the seventies.

FindmeuptheFarawaytree · 14/02/2022 13:48

Here are my thoughts, may well be wrong! Rectangular prism is like a pyramid with a rectangular face on the bottom, triangular prism has a triangle face on the bottom. 3d rectangle is a (rectangular) cuboid, 3d square is a cube. In the early 90s I was taught rectangle but never oblong.

Topseyt · 14/02/2022 13:49

I was taught in primary school that a rectangle and an oblong were one and the same thing and the terms could be used interchangeably.

I don't tend to use the word oblong. I am more likely to refer to a rectangle. That is just my personal preference, and from what is being said on this thread I have no idea whether or not it is technically correct. Grin

My primary school years were between 1971 and 1977 (so far too many moons ago).

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