or·​thog·​o·​nal | \ȯr-ˈthä-gə-nᵊl \

Definition of orthogonal 

1a : intersecting or lying at right angles In orthogonal cutting, the cutting edge is perpendicular to the direction of tool travel.

b : having perpendicular slopes or tangents at the point of intersection orthogonal curves

2 : having a sum of products or an integral (see integral entry 1 sense 1b) that is zero or sometimes one under specified conditions: such as

a of real-valued functions : having the integral of the product of each pair of functions over a specific interval equal to zero

b of vectors : having the scalar product equal to zero

c of a square matrix : having the sum of products of corresponding elements in any two rows or any two columns equal to one if the rows or columns are the same and equal to zero otherwise : having a transpose with which the product equals the identity matrix

3 of a linear transformation : having a matrix (see matrix sense 5a) that is orthogonal : preserving length and distance

4 : composed of mutually orthogonal elements an orthogonal basis of a vector space

5 : statistically independent mental ability may be classified into several orthogonal … factors— O. D. Duncan

6 : orthographic sense 1 orthogonal projection

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from orthogonal

orthogonality \ ȯr-​ˌthä-​gə-​ˈna-​lə-​tē \ noun
orthogonally \ ȯr-​ˈthä-​gə-​nᵊl-​ē \ adverb

Examples of orthogonal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

In addition to photos, the system will pull its imagery from sources such as commercial satellite and orthogonal imagery. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "US spy lab hopes to geotag every outdoor photo on social media," 16 Mar. 2018 All of this is, of course, trackable on the handheld's lower screen, the persistence of its orthogonal map eliminating screen-tabbing interruptions and clumsy semi-transparent overlays. Matt Peckham, Time, "Metroid: Samus Returns Is Exactly the Metroid the 3DS Needs," 27 June 2017 The coal-refining tax credits were approved by Congress and, seeing as the energy industry is completely orthogonal to Mylan's business, there's no reason the company can't snatch up stakes in this business arena. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "EpiPen Maker Mylan Saves Millions in Taxes Thanks to Huge Stakes in Coal Companies," 21 June 2017 The shifting tectonics play off the orthogonal grid of courts. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, "Tennis, for Anyone? In the Bronx, the Answer Is Yes," 28 Apr. 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of orthogonal

circa 1560, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for orthogonal

Middle French, from Latin orthogonius, from Greek orthogōnios, from orth- + gōnia angle — more at -gon

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about orthogonal

Share orthogonal

Statistics for orthogonal

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for orthogonal

The first known use of orthogonal was circa 1560

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for orthogonal


or·​thog·​o·​nal | \ȯr-ˈthäg-ən-ᵊl \

Medical Definition of orthogonal 

1a : lying or intersecting at right angles

b : being, using, or made with three ECG leads whose axes are perpendicular to each other and to the frontal, horizontal, and sagittal axes of the body the three orthogonal leads were recorded simultaneously on magnetic tape— Massoud Nemati et al

2 : statistically independent mental ability may be classified into several orthogonal…factors— O. D. Duncan

More from Merriam-Webster on orthogonal

Britannica English: Translation of orthogonal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on orthogonal

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


a trusted follower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!