per·​pen·​dic·​u·​lar | \ˌpər-pən-ˈdi-kyə-lər \

Definition of perpendicular 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : standing at right angles to the plane of the horizon : exactly upright

b : being at right angles to a given line or plane

2 : extremely steep : precipitous

3 often capitalized : of or relating to a medieval English Gothic style of architecture in which vertical lines predominate

4 : relating to, uniting, or consisting of individuals of dissimilar type or on different levels



Definition of perpendicular (Entry 2 of 2)

: a line at right angles to a line or plane (as of the horizon)

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Other Words from perpendicular


perpendicularity \ ˌpər-​pən-​ˌdi-​kyə-​ˈler-​ə-​tē , -​ˈla-​rə-​ \ noun
perpendicularly \ ˌpər-​pən-​ˈdi-​kyə-​lər-​lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for perpendicular

Synonyms: Adjective

erect, plumb, raised, stand-up, standing, upright, upstanding, vertical

Antonyms: Adjective

flat, recumbent

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Choose the Right Synonym for perpendicular


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

Examples of perpendicular in a Sentence


She lives on the street that is perpendicular to mine. river rafters staring awestruck at the canyon's nearly perpendicular cliffs

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The front and back supports must be centered perpendicular to the uprights. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "How to Build the Ultimate Outdoor Compost Bin," 13 July 2018 His diminutive and meticulously fashioned renditions of signs for establishments like the Paradise Restaurant and Perry’s Place hang perpendicular to the wall, as the originals were designed to do. Edith Newhall,, "Paul Cava's 'inappropriate' art finds a home after Episcopal Cathedral controversy," 5 Apr. 2018 These parallel ridges lay near high mountains and seemed to form perpendicular to markings left by the wind — exactly what would be expected in dune formation, Telfer said. Amina Khan,, "Dunes of methane ice? Tiny Pluto's surface reveals big surprises," 1 June 2018 Fire department photos show the red car hanging at an odd, perpendicular angle, with another car jammed behind it., "Riders plunge 34 feet, others hurt when Fla. roller coaster derails," 15 June 2018 In a crosswind landing, strong wind is hitting an aircraft at a perpendicular angle to the direction of the landing strip. Sophie Weiner, Popular Mechanics, "This Crosswind Jet Takeoff Is Terrifying," 2 Sep. 2016 Features: The backyard is a terraced retreat featuring an outdoor kitchen — with steel cabinets, a fire pit tucked underneath existing boulders, and a rectangular swimming pool set perpendicular to the line of the house. Arizona Republic, azcentral, "Coolest homes: 10 unique modern homes featured on azcentral," 21 June 2018 Fog harvesters are mesh nets, usually one meter squared, erected perpendicular to the path of the wind. Angela Chen, The Verge, "Scientists are harvesting water by building fog harps and zapping the air," 8 June 2018 These winds, which blow perpendicular to the piles of sand, have left dark streaks of material on Sputnik Planitia that allowed scientists to retrace their path. National Geographic, "Surprise! Pluto Has Dunes Made of Methane 'Sand'," 31 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Photos from the scene showed the plane perpendicular to highway lanes about 75 miles south of San Francisco. CBS News, "Plane lands on California highway median; no injuries reported," 18 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'perpendicular.' 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 perpendicular


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1551, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for perpendicular


Middle English perpendiculer, from Middle French, from Latin perpendicularis, from perpendiculum plumb line, from per- + pendēre to hang — more at pendant

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Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for perpendicular

The first known use of perpendicular was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for perpendicular



English Language Learners Definition of perpendicular

: going straight up or to the side at a 90 degree angle from another line or surface


per·​pen·​dic·​u·​lar | \ˌpər-pən-ˈdi-kyə-lər \

Kids Definition of perpendicular

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : exactly vertical

2 : being at right angles to a line or surface The letter T is made with two perpendicular lines.

Other Words from perpendicular

perpendicularly adverb



Kids Definition of perpendicular (Entry 2 of 2)

: a line, surface, or position at right angles to another line, surface, or position

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Comments on perpendicular

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a private place of worship

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