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A 3D box

3D (or 3-D) means three-dimensional, or having three dimensions. For example, a box is three-dimensional; it is solid, and not thin like a piece of paper. It has volume, a top and bottom, left and right (sides), as well as a front and back. You can turn the box around to view it from another side (called a face, surface or simply side).

A dimension is measurable in inches, microns, miles, kilometers, or any other unit of length.

The three dimensions are often called length (or depth), width (or breadth), and height. Some purposes use other words.

3D graphics are used to make video games or animated movies. A lot of calculations are needed to make pictures seem three-dimensional on a screen. Modern computers usually have a GPU (graphics processing unit) to handle these calculations.

Picture of the "X axis", "Y axis", and "Z axis".
A 3D mathematical picture, or graph, with lines measuring width, height, and length.

In mathematics

In the Cartesian coordinate system, length, width, and height are given letters (variables) to make them easier to write, or if a value is not known. Often X is width, Y is height, and Z is length. Another common 3D coordinate system uses spherical coordinates.

The mathematical study of shapes and dimensions is called geometry. Geometry can be used to find things such as volume, area, and how tall a mountain is.


Some people see time as a fourth dimension. It is also measured. It is measured in units of time such as seconds, hours, years, or any other measurement of time.