Definitions
from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
 adjective Of or relating to an exponent.
 adjective Containing, involving, or expressed as an exponent.
 adjective Expressed in terms of a designated power of e, the base of natural logarithms.
from The Century Dictionary.
 Of or pertaining to an exponent or exponents; involving variable exponents.
 noun The function expressed by the infinite series 1 +
x + ½x + ⅙x +, etc., or the Napierian base raised to the power indicated by the variable. Thus, e^{x} = exp. x is the exponential of x.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.
 adjective Pertaining to exponents; involving variable exponents
 adjective changing over time in an exponential manner, i. e. increasing or decreasing by a fixed ratio for each unit of time.
 adjective a curve whose nature is defined by means of an exponential equation.
 adjective an equation which contains an exponential quantity, or in which the unknown quantity enters as an exponent.
 adjective (Math.) a quantity whose exponent is unknown or variable, as ax.
 adjective a series derived from the development of exponential equations or quantities.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/ShareAlike License.
 adjective Relating to an
exponent .  adjective mathematics Expressed in terms of a
power ofe .  adjective In modern English, used to describe a high or rapid rate of change.
 noun mathematics Any
function that has anexponent as anindependent variable .
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
 adjective of or involving exponents
 noun a function in which an independent variable appears as an exponent
Etymologies
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Examples

I use the term exponential to refer to compounding's effect to set it off from those who use linear or arithmetic models.
Further Discussion of Compounding Suggestions . . .. . . behind the curtain . . . 2005

I use the term exponential to refer to compounding's effect to set it off from those who use linear or arithmetic models.
Life of Brian: 2005

MCINTYRE (voiceover): Citing what he calls the exponential rise in the number of deaths, both U.S. and Iraqi, along with the failure of the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to disarm the warring militias, Republican Senator John Warner is sounding a dire warning.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Citing what he calls the exponential rise in the number of deaths, both U.S. and Iraqi, along with the failure of the government of Prime Minister Nouri alMaliki to disarm the warring militias, Republican Senator John Warner is sounding a dire warning: While he still has hope, it's fading fast.

PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Citing what he calls the exponential rise in the number of death, both U.S. and Iraqi, along with the failure of the government Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to disarm the warring militias.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) (SOUNDS) MCINTYRE (voiceover): Citing what he calls the exponential rise in the number of deaths, both U.S. and Iraqi, along with the failure of the government of Prime Minister Nouri alMaliki to disarm the warring militias, Republican Senator John Warner is sounding a dire warming while he still has hope, it's fading fast.

PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Citing what he calls the exponential rise in the number of deaths, both U.S. and Iraqi, along with the failure of the government of Prime Minister Nouri alMaliki to disarm the warring militias, Republican Senator John Warner is sounding a dire warning: while he still has hope, it's fading fast.

MCINTYRE (voice over): Citing what he calls the exponential rise in the number of deaths both U.S. and Iraqi, along with the failure of the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to disarm the warring militias, Republican Senator John Warner is sounding a dire warning.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Citing what he calls the exponential rise in the name of deaths, both U.S. and Iraqi, along with the failure of the government of Prime Minister Nouri AlMaliki to disarm the warring militias, Republican Senator John Warner is sending a dire warning.

The fingers of the explosions, shooting off in exponential pathways, are a sort of Manifest Destiny writ large across the sky.
azzurre commented on the word exponential
if more people understood this word....
March 2, 2007
whichbe commented on the word exponential
what if exponentially more people understood this word?
July 5, 2007
seanahan commented on the word exponential
I took an intro biology class where they referred to it as a "Jshaped curve", which seemed like a pointless simplification.
July 6, 2007
uselessness commented on the word exponential
More like a curvy L... or a J, as long as it's not one of those Js that curves back up on the short side. ;)
July 6, 2007
seanahan commented on the word exponential
There is a fundamental human difficultly in dealing with exponential numbers. The mind has evolved to understand small quantities, the integers. The rational numbers, or fractions, are probably a rather recent invention, other than perhaps, I'll take 1/4 of that Woolly Mammoth we just killed. The human brain is just not designed to deal with numbers on an exponential scale.
Take, for example, the problem of the grains of rice on the chess board. At first glance, 1, 2, 4, 8, doesn't seem like a big deal. Of course, if you do the math, 2^64 is more grains of rice than have ever existed, but intuitively, it doesn't seem to be.
July 6, 2007
oroboros commented on the word exponential
Gotta be designed for it or there wouldn't BE "exponential numbers". Maybe most brains have a "number governor" installed; the ones that don't are right at home with exponentials and equations like e^iπ = 1 and so on.
July 6, 2007
reesetee commented on the word exponential
If that's the case, oroboros, my number governor is a damned tyrant. ;)
July 6, 2007
oroboros commented on the word exponential
Just slip it a Mickey Finn and be a math genius! (hee hee)
July 6, 2007
reesetee commented on the word exponential
Now *there's* a thought....
July 8, 2007