Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective ver·ti·cal \ˈvər-ti-kəl\

Simple Definition of vertical

  • : positioned up and down rather than from side to side : going straight up

  • : having a structure in which there are top, middle, and bottom levels

Full Definition of vertical

  1. 1 a :  situated at the highest point :  directly overhead or in the zenith b of an aerial photograph :  taken with the camera pointing straight down or nearly so

  2. 2 a :  perpendicular to the plane of the horizon or to a primary axis :  upright b (1) :  located at right angles to the plane of a supporting surface (2) :  lying in the direction of an axis :  lengthwise

  3. 3 a :  relating to, involving, or integrating economic activity from basic production to point of sale <a vertical monopoly> b :  of, relating to, or comprising persons of different status <the vertical arrangement of society>

vertical noun
ver·ti·cal·i·ty play \ˌvər-tə-ˈka-lə-tē\ noun
ver·ti·cal·ly play \ˈvər-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
ver·ti·cal·ness play \-kəl-nəs\ noun

Examples of vertical

  1. a shirt with vertical stripes

  2. the vertical axis of a graph

Origin of vertical

Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French, from Late Latin verticalis, from Latin vertic-, vertex

First Known Use: 1559

Synonym Discussion of vertical

vertical, perpendicular, plumb mean being at right angles to a base line. vertical suggests a line or direction rising straight upward toward a zenith <the side of the cliff is almost vertical>. perpendicular may stress the straightness of a line making a right angle with any other line, not necessarily a horizontal one <the parallel bars are perpendicular to the support posts>. plumb stresses an exact verticality determined (as with a plumb line) by earth's gravity <make sure that the wall is plumb>.

Medical Dictionary


adjective ver·ti·cal \ˈvərt-i-kəl\

Medical Definition of vertical

  1. :  relating to or being transmission (as of a disease) by genetic inheritance or by a congenital or perinatal route <vertical transmission of the hepatitis B virus from mother to infant>—compare horizontal 2

  2. ver·ti·cal·ly \ˈvərt-i-k(ə-)lē\play adverb

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up vertical? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 14, 2016

to hug and kiss another person

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

100 pounds 16.96 pounds 2.2 pounds 196.5 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.