per·​pen·​dic·​u·​lar | \ ˌpər-pən-ˈdi-kyə-lər How to pronounce perpendicular (audio) \

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 How to pronounce perpendicular (audio) , -​ˈla-​rə-​ \ noun
perpendicularly \ ˌpər-​pən-​ˈdi-​kyə-​lər-​lē How to pronounce perpendicular (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for perpendicular

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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

Adjective 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 shower's short peak is because only a small stream of particles interacts with our atmosphere, and the stream occurs at a perpendicular angle. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Quadrantid meteor shower peaks this weekend and other celestial events in 2021," 2 Jan. 2021 The steak variant is cut crosswise and is perpendicular to the spine. Angela Watson,, "How to cook salmon," 5 Mar. 2021 The circumar is shaped like a large kettle with marimba keys suspended perpendicular to the floor. New York Times, "To Express the Sound of a Country’s Soul, He Invented New Instruments," 19 Feb. 2021 The mountains rise abruptly and line up west to east, creating an almost exactly perpendicular obstacle to the winds. Los Angeles Times, "Strong winds possible in the San Gabriel Valley area Sunday morning, forecasters say," 26 Feb. 2021 In plywood and composite panels, typically 4x8-foot sheets, crosscutting refers to cutting across the panel's 4-foot width or perpendicular to the direction of the grain direction of its face veneer. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Portable Table Saws," 24 Feb. 2021 His car crashed into the building at a 90-degree angle, directly perpendicular to the road, according to police. oregonlive, "Medical problem, not crash, likely killed driver in NW Portland, police say," 21 Jan. 2021 Photos showed the front end of the bus dangling off the overpass, perpendicular to the road below, while the back portion of the bus remained above, in a horizontal position. Dom Calicchio, Fox News, "New York City bus crashes through barrier, dangles from overpass; 9 injuries reported," 15 Jan. 2021 Because this bank was shallow and prone to sand deposits, piers perpendicular to the bank were installed into deeper waters for vessels to moor. Richard Campanella,, "acquisition of 1,100 acres," 1 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun At the University of Maryland, the line at Terrapin’s Turf, a dance bar perpendicular to College Park's main drag, was loud and long Friday night. USA Today, "'So much for honor': Despite COVID cases, college students threw Labor Day weekend of parties," 9 Sep. 2020 Marquis, rail-thin and wearing a sweater despite the heat, held court Tuesday under a balcony perpendicular to where the Treme-Lafitte Brass Band played up above on the second story. Keith Spera,, "Writer Don Marquis' jazz-loving life in New Orleans comes to a close, with one last dance," 6 Aug. 2020 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 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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Time Traveler for perpendicular

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for perpendicular

Last Updated

7 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perpendicular.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce perpendicular (audio) \

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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