Definitions
from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
 adjective Of, relating to, or resembling a line; straight.
 adjective In, of, describing, described by, or related to a straight line.
 adjective Having only one dimension.
 adjective Characterized by, composed of, or emphasizing drawn lines rather than painterly effects.
 adjective Botany Narrow and elongated with nearly parallel margins.
from The Century Dictionary.
 Of or pertaining to a line or lines; composed or consisting of lines: as, linear drawing; linear perspective.
 Relating to length only; specifically, in mathematics and physics, involving measurement in one dimension only, or a sum of such measurements; involving only straight lines; unidimensional; of the first degree: as, linear numbers; linear measure.
 In bot., zoöl, and anatomy, like a line or thread; slender; very narrow and elongate: as, a linear leaf.
 In prosody, consisting in or pertaining to a succession of single verses all of the same rhythm and length; stichic: as, linear composition; “Paradise Lost” is linear in composition.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.
 adjective Of or pertaining to a line; consisting of lines; in a straight direction; lineal.
 adjective (Bot.) Like a line; narrow; of the same breadth throughout, except at the extremities.
 adjective Thinking in a stepbystep analytical and logical fashion; contrasted with
holistic , i.e. thinking in terms of complex interrelated patterns.  adjective (Math.) an equation which is of the first degree, when the expression which is equated to zero is regarded as a function of the dependent variable and its differential coefficients.
 adjective (Math.) an equation of the first degree between two variables;  so called because every such equation may be considered as representing a right line.
 adjective the measurement of length.
 adjective (Math.) such numbers as have relation to length only: such is a number which represents one side of a plane figure. If the plane figure is square, the linear figure is called a
root .  adjective (Geom.) a problem which may be solved geometrically by the use of right lines alone.
 adjective (Alg.) a change of variables where each variable is replaced by a function of the first degree in the new variable.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/ShareAlike License.
 adjective Having the form of a
line ;straight .  adjective Of or relating to lines.
 adjective Made in a
stepbystep ,logical manner.  adjective botany, of leaves Long and narrow, with nearly
parallel sides.  adjective mathematics Of or relating to a class of
polynomial of the form .  adjective physics A type of
length measurement involving only one spatialdimension (as opposed to area or volume).
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
 adjective measured lengthwise
 adjective designating or involving an equation whose terms are of the first degree
 adjective of or in or along or relating to a line; involving a single dimension
 adjective (of a leaf shape) long and narrow
 adjective of a circuit or device having an output that is proportional to the input
Etymologies
from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/ShareAlike License
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Examples

"The term linear just means that each output bit of the mixing function is the XOR of several of the input bits.",
Planet Ubuntu 2008

If you think in linear algebra terms, the linear system is the addition operator, and the nonlinear system is the multiplier (cross product in this case):

Add into the mix the fact that the story is not told in linear time the first half of the book is working backwards into history, while the second half works forwards into the future and you start to see the complexity of writing like this.

Astronomers really do measure the moisture content of the atmosphere in linear units (though not in hairs), because what they care about is the total amount of water above the telescope, not the humidity (and certainly not the relative humidity).
A new unit of humidity? AYDIN 2009

Analysis of discontinuities in linear memory indicate the effects of a large, quick EM pulse.
365 tomorrows » submission : A New Free Flash Fiction SciFi Story Every Day 2010

Anthropologists get bound up in linear social progression to such an extent that knobgourds are interpreted as meaning/representing all sorts of crazy things, when in reality they just make the wearer feel, you know, sexy.
Cheeseburger Gothic » Yes I get ffkn grmpy whn I’m on fkn deadline. 2009

Analysis of discontinuities in linear memory indicate the effects of a large, quick EM pulse.
365 tomorrows » 2010 » June : A New Free Flash Fiction SciFi Story Every Day 2010

The relationship between height and water pressure in linear and follows the relationship of 1 psi (pounds per square inch) = 2.308 feet of water (27. 7 inches) therefore a typical onestorey home with a roof tank mounted on the roof will have the water level in the tank approximately 4.5 metres (177.2 inches) above the ground.

The relationship between height and water pressure in linear and follows the relationship of 1 psi (pounds per square inch) = 2.308 feet of water (27. 7 inches) therefore a typical onestorey home with a roof tank mounted on the roof will have the water level in the tank approximately 4.5 metres (177.2 inches) above the ground.

This is said to show the true sequence of recorded events in linear time, presumably on the grounds that Spanish loan words and intrusions would become more common in later chronicles.
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