Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Eric, a parent:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have a question regarding the differences between a cone and a pyramid. In my son's Maths workbook, a cone is always referred to as a pyramid, which confuses me very much. I understand that a pyramid is a special case of a cone and therefore you can refer a pyramid as a cone but not the other way around.
Am I correct?



You are correct. You can find definitions in our glossary.


  • the surface or solid formed by rays emanating from a fixed point (vertex) passing through a closed planar curve called the base.
  • In common usage, the word cone refers to a right circular cone, which is a cone whose base is a circle and whose vertex is directly above or below the center of the circle.


  • a geometric solid with one base that is a polygon and all other faces are triangles with a common vertex.

So a pyramid is a cone which has a polygon as its base.


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