lateral

adjective
lat·​er·​al | \ˈla-tə-rəl also ˈla-trəl \

Definition of lateral 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : of or relating to the side a lateral view

2 : situated on, directed toward, or coming from the side the lateral branches of a tree

3 : extending from side to side the lateral axis of an airplane

4 phonetics : produced with passage of breath around the side of a constriction formed with the tongue \l\ is lateral

lateral

noun

Definition of lateral (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a branch from the main part (as in an irrigation or electrical system)

2 : a pass in football thrown parallel to the line of scrimmage or in a direction away from the opponent's goal

3 : a lateral speech sound

lateral

verb
lateraled; lateraling; laterals

Definition of lateral (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to throw a lateral

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Other Words from lateral

Adjective

laterally adverb

Synonyms for lateral

Synonyms: Adjective

side

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Did You Know?

Lateral shows up in all kinds of contexts. A lateral job change is one that keeps you at about the same job level and salary. A coach might have special drills to improve his players' lateral speed and agility. The British speak of "lateral thinking", thinking that grabs ideas that may not seem to be relevant but turn out to work well—what we might call "thinking outside the box". But we know lateral best from football. A lateral pass is a pass of the ball between teammates that usually goes to the side and slightly backward from the direction in which they're advancing; unlike a forward pass, a lateral may be made from any position, and any number may be made in a single play.

Examples of lateral in a Sentence

Adjective

the lateral force of an earthquake from the lateral view you can see how thick the wall really is

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

At 6 feet 1, 223 pounds, O’Daniel is small for an outside linebacker but has good lateral agility and is a versatile defender. Jonas Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, "Chiefs take Olney's Dorian O'Daniel, LB from Clemson, in third round," 28 Apr. 2018 Authorities figure the boys are anywhere between 600 and 1,000 yards down, and their lateral location is just as uncertain. Jake Maxwell Watts, WSJ, "What Lies Beneath? Vague Mapping Complicates Thai Cave Rescue," 8 July 2018 Featuring a lightweight, high-strength steel frame and detailed sculpting, the seats are intended to provide increased lateral support and will offer up to 16-way power adjustability. Andrew Wendler, Car and Driver, "2019 Acura RDX Crossover: Return of the Turbocharged Four," 29 Mar. 2018 An integrated strap and outrigger for lateral support and mid foot lockdown—a first in a CP3 silhouette. Jarrel Harris, SI.com, "Chris Paul Q&A: Rockets PG Unveils Latest Signature Sneaker, the CP3.XI," 20 Mar. 2018 The inside is also very roomy, both in the front and back (although the driver's seat is rather hard and doesn't offer much in the way of lateral support). Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "The 2018 Toyota Camry might be proof most people don’t care about cars," 13 Feb. 2018 Lutz’s plumber told him that the lateral wasn’t properly connected. Claudia Vargas, Philly.com, "'Nightmare on Monroe Street': A tiny Queen Village block's six-year feud with the Philly Water Department," 6 July 2018 Replacing part of a clay storm-sewer lateral that a resident said was damaged during excavation. Bob Sandrick, cleveland.com, "Cost of Strongsville sanitary sewer project rises by 24 percent," 30 Apr. 2018 What’s more, unlike at large companies, harassers and victims can’t be separated with a lateral move. Alina Dizik, WSJ, "Why Sexual Harassment Can Be Tough to Fight at Small Firms," 30 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Some of the laterals might still be the clay originals. Claudia Vargas, Philly.com, "'Nightmare on Monroe Street': A tiny Queen Village block's six-year feud with the Philly Water Department," 6 July 2018 Digging up streets to install sewer laterals, which lead from the sewer main to individual homes. Bob Sandrick, cleveland.com, "Cost of Strongsville sanitary sewer project rises by 24 percent," 30 Apr. 2018 The first crop will form on shoots directly from these arms; future crops will form on shoots from laterals off these arms. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "How To Grow Your Own Kiwis In Your Backyard," 6 Feb. 2018 The assets being sold do not include the customer service laterals that run from the curb to each customer’s homes, or any interior plumbing in homes. Andrew Maykuth, Philly.com, "Pa. American buys Chesco sewer system for $9.25M," 2 May 2018 Mikula said that laterals usually are installed through bores or holes drilled in the road. Bob Sandrick, cleveland.com, "Cost of Strongsville sanitary sewer project rises by 24 percent," 30 Apr. 2018 Together, the two laterals pushed overall footage at the well, called CD5-25, to a little over eight miles, at 42,993 feet, the company said. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "ConocoPhillips claims North American record for horizontal drilling," 23 Apr. 2018 Health experts acknowledge the city did little to replace lead laterals and to encourage the use of water filters before 2016. Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Paint industry accused of trying to create diversion over lead poisoning in Milwaukee," 9 Apr. 2018 Sometimes laterals are significantly smaller than the centrals; sometimes the difference is more subtle. Julie Mazziotta, PEOPLE.com, "No, Nick Jonas Does Not Have 3 Front Teeth: The Singer and a Dentist Weigh In," 14 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Grugier-Hill didn’t bite on an option play in which Foles lateraled to Wallace and the receiver heaved a deep pass to running back Matt Jones. Jeff Mclane, Philly.com, "Eagles practice observations: Jalen Mills locks down; Nelson Agholor explodes; Dallas Goedert catches on," 13 June 2018 Hayward pitched the ball off to Miami’s Reshad Jones, who then lateraled it to Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey for a return of 23 yards. J.c. Carnahan, OrlandoSentinel.com, "AFC prevails in Pro Bowl on Delanie Walker's late TD catch," 29 Jan. 2018 Wilson tossed the ball to the running back J.D. McKissic, who then lateraled the ball back across the field to Wilson, who launched a 38-yard pass down the field. Tim Rohan, SI.com, "Seahawks Find Their Groove in Second Half and Take Down Giants 24–7," 22 Oct. 2017 Quarterback Jared Goff completed a short pass to receiver Pharoh Cooper, who lateraled the ball to Tavon Austin. Gary Klein, latimes.com, "Eagles 14, Rams 7: Carson Wentz throws 20-yard touchdown pass to Trey Burton," 10 Dec. 2017 The Chiefs won the toss and promptly threatened again when lineman Buck Buchanan lateraled Yepremian's short kick to Podolak, who returned to his 46. By Bob Rubin, miamiherald, "When Christmas dinner was delayed as the Miami Dolphins played on and on," 19 Dec. 2016 The Skins threw a screen pass and started desperately lateraling the ball all over the field. Dan Gartland, SI.com, "A Meaningless Chiefs Touchdown Screwed Gamblers in Two Ways," 3 Oct. 2017 Cozart lateraled to Wilson, then slipped past his right tackle and right up the middle for a wide-open catch. Dave Southorn And Rachel Roberts, idahostatesman, "Boise State quarterbacks Rypien, Cozart catch passes | Idaho Statesman," 4 Nov. 2017 Jason King caught Taylor’s pass 10 yards downfield, was hit by a couple of defenders, then lateraled to a hustling Swen. Mark Zeske, star-telegram, "Eaton’s running back puts on a show against Saginaw," 3 Nov. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lateral.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of lateral

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1930, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lateral

Adjective

Middle English laterale, from Latin lateralis, from later-, latus side

Noun

see lateral entry 1

Verb

see lateral entry 1

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Time Traveler for lateral

The first known use of lateral was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for lateral

lateral

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of lateral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: toward, on, or coming from the side

lateral

noun

English Language Learners Definition of lateral (Entry 2 of 2)

American football : a pass thrown to the side or backward

lateral

adjective
lat·​er·​al | \ˈla-tə-rəl \

Kids Definition of lateral

: being on or directed toward the side lateral movement

Other Words from lateral

laterally adverb

lateral

adjective
lat·​er·​al | \ˈlat-ə-rəl, ˈla-trəl \

Medical Definition of lateral 

: of or relating to the side especially, of a body part : lying at or extending toward the right or left side : lying away from the median axis of the body the lungs are lateral to the heart the lateral branch of the axillary artery

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