# Pyramids vs. Prisms: Know the Difference

By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023

**Pyramids are three-dimensional shapes with a polygon base and triangular faces converging to a point, while prisms are solid figures with two identical, parallel polygonal bases and rectangular faces.**

## Key Differences

"Pyramids" have a base that is a polygon (like a square or triangle) and triangular faces that converge at a single point, known as the apex. "Prisms", in contrast, consist of two parallel and congruent polygonal bases connected by rectangular faces.

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Nov 15, 2023

The number of faces on a pyramid depends on the base shape (e.g., a square base leads to five faces), while a prism always has faces equal to the sides of the base plus two.

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Pyramids are often associated with ancient structures, like those in Egypt, representing a single point of convergence. Prisms, however, are commonly referenced in optics and physics for their ability to refract light.

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In volume calculation, a pyramid's volume is one-third the base area times the height, whereas a prism's volume is the base area times the height, indicating a difference in spatial capacity.

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Architecturally, pyramids symbolize stability and are used in monuments. Prisms are used in modern design for their uniformity and are significant in light experiments.

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## Comparison Chart

### Faces

Triangular faces, number based on base

Rectangular faces, always equal to sides of base plus two

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### Common Uses

Ancient architecture, symbolic structures

Optics, physics, and modern architecture

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## Pyramids and Prisms Definitions

#### Pyramids

Mathematical Model

We built a pyramid in math class to understand 3D shapes.

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#### Prisms

Geometric Body

A prism with a triangular base is called a triangular prism.

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#### Pyramids

Architectural Element

The glass pyramid serves as the entrance to the museum.

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#### Prisms

3D Shape

In geometry, we learned how to calculate the volume of a prism.

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#### Pyramids

Ancient Structures

The Pyramids of Giza are among the most famous in the world.

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#### Prisms

Physics Concept

The prism dispersed the white light into a spectrum of colors.

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#### Pyramids

Symbolic Form

In many cultures, pyramids symbolize strength and durability.

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#### Pyramids

A solid figure with a polygonal base and triangular faces that meet at a common point.

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#### Prisms

Architectural Feature

The building's prism-like design creates interesting light patterns.

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#### Prisms

A solid figure whose bases or ends have the same size and shape and are parallel to one another, and each of whose sides is a parallelogram.

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#### Pyramids

A massive monument of ancient Egypt having a rectangular base and four triangular faces culminating in a single apex, built over or around a crypt or tomb.

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#### Prisms

A transparent body of this form, often of glass and usually with triangular ends, used for separating white light passed through it into a spectrum or for reflecting beams of light.

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#### Pyramids

Any of various similar constructions, especially a four-sided Mesoamerican temple having stepped sides and a flat top surmounted by chambers.

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#### Prisms

A crystal form consisting of three or more similar faces parallel to a single axis.

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#### Pyramids

To build (an argument or thesis, for example) progressively from a basic general premise.

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#### Pyramids

To speculate in (stock) by making a series of buying and selling transactions in which paper profits are used as margin for buying more stock.

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#### Pyramids

Geometric Shape

The pyramid has a square base and four triangular sides.

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## Repeatedly Asked Queries

#### What is a pyramid?

A pyramid is a three-dimensional geometric shape with a polygonal base and triangular faces that converge at a single point called the apex.

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Nov 15, 2023

#### What is a prism?

A prism is a polyhedron with two parallel, congruent faces called bases and additional faces that are parallelograms.

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#### Can a pyramid have a circular base?

No, a pyramid cannot have a circular base; those shapes are called cones.

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#### How many sides does a pyramid have?

The number of sides of a pyramid depends on the base; for example, a square pyramid has five sides, including its base.

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#### What is a regular pyramid?

A regular pyramid has a regular polygon base and congruent isosceles triangles as its sides.

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#### What is the difference in the bases of pyramids and prisms?

Pyramids have a single polygonal base, while prisms have two parallel, congruent polygonal bases.

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#### Are all sides of a prism flat?

Yes, all faces of a prism, including the bases and sides, are flat surfaces.

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#### Are the lateral faces of a rectangular prism rectangles?

Yes, in a rectangular prism, the lateral faces are rectangles.

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#### How many sides does a prism have?

A prism has at least five sides, with three or more on the lateral surfaces and two as bases.

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#### How do you calculate the volume of a prism?

The volume of a prism is the base area multiplied by its height.

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#### Can a prism have triangles as its bases?

Yes, a triangular prism has triangles as its bases.

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#### Can a prism have a circular base?

No, a prism cannot have a circular base; such shapes are cylinders.

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#### What is a regular prism?

A regular prism is a prism where the bases are regular polygons, and the sides are rectangles.

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#### Can the faces of a pyramid be other shapes besides triangles?

No, the faces of a pyramid, other than its base, are always triangular.

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#### What is the apex of a pyramid?

The apex is the topmost point where all the triangular faces of a pyramid meet.

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#### Can pyramids be classified by their base shape?

Yes, pyramids are often classified by the shape of their base, such as triangular, square, or hexagonal pyramids.

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#### Do all prisms have the same cross-section along their length?

Yes, in a prism, the cross-section is constant along its length.

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#### What is the difference in the top shapes of pyramids and prisms?

Pyramids taper to a single point at the top, while prisms have a flat top parallel to the base.

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#### Is the Great Pyramid of Giza a regular pyramid?

The Great Pyramid of Giza is a square pyramid, but it is not a regular pyramid because its base is a square but its sides are not congruent isosceles triangles.

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Nov 15, 2023

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About Author

Written by

Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.