Introduction to Prisms

A prism is a solid whose ends, or bases, are parallel congruent polygons, and whose sides or faces are parallelograms. A straight line moving parallel to itself, its extremities traveling round the outlines of plane figures, generates the prism.

Prisms are named according to the shape of ends of bases. A prism with a square base is called a square prism and a prism with hexagonal base is called a hexagonal prism. Similarly, when the ends or bases of a prism are parallelogram, the prism is called a parallelepiped.


As shown in the figure the sides or faces of the prism are ABFE, BCGF etc. These faces are parallelograms. If they were rectangles, angle EAB would be {90^ \circ } and the prism would be a right prism. A prism that is not a right prism is called an oblique prism. A side of one of these parallelograms of these prisms is called a lateral edge.

The altitude of a prism is the distance between the planes of the two bases (i.e.h). In a right prism, altitude is the same length as a lateral edge and this is not true for an oblique prism.