Diameter (of a circle)
From Greek: dia- "across, through" + metron "a measure"
The distance across a circle through its center point.
Try this Drag the orange dot. The blue line will always remain a diameter of the circle.
The diameter of a circle is the length of the line through the center and touching two points on its edge.
In the figure above, drag the orange dots around and see that the diameter never changes.
Sometimes the word 'diameter' is used to refer to the line itself. In that sense you may see "draw a diameter of the circle".
In the more recent sense, it is the length of the line, and so is referred to as "the diameter of the circle is 3.4 centimeters"
The diameter is also a
A chord is a line that joins any two points on a circle.
A diameter is a chord that runs through the center point of the circle.
It is the longest possible chord of any circle.
If you know the radius
Given the radius of a circle, the diameter can be calculated using the formula
If you know the circumference
If you know the circumference of a circle, the diameter can be found using the formula
If you know the area
If you know the area of a circle, the diameter can be found using the formula
The radius is the distance from the center to any point on the edge.
As you can see from the figure above, the diameter is two radius lines back to back,
so the diameter is always two times the radius.
See radius of a circle
The circumference is the distance around the edge of the circle. See
Circumference of a Circle for more.
Things to try
- In the figure above, click 'reset' and drag any orange dot. Notice that the diameter is the same length at any point around the circle.
- Click on "show radius". Drag the orange dot at the end of the radius line. Note how the radius is always half the diameter.
- Uncheck the "fixed size" box. Repeat the above and note how the radius is always half the diameter no matter what the size of the circle.
Thales' Theorem states that the diameter of a circle
to any point of the circle's circumference. (see figure on right).
No matter where the point is, the triangle
formed is always a right triangle.
See Thales Theorem for an interactive animation of this concept.
Other circle topics
Equations of a circle
Angles in a circle
(C) 2009 Copyright Math Open Reference. All rights reserved