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

This wave in receding took her back toward the beach, and left her nearly perpendicular on the edge of a coral reef. Daniel C. Schlenoff, Scientific American, "Lab Work for X-Ray Stars and Movie Stars," 1 Dec. 2017 When that’s done, a perpendicular line along 6th Street would be natural. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Austin can’t stay weird," 28 Sep. 2018 To avoid wiping out, a strategic perpendicular ski maneuver is required. Amy Tara Koch, Vogue, "Can an Intermediate Skier Take on the Chilean Andes? Yes, and It’s a Party at Ski Portillo," 12 Sep. 2018 That’s supported by the presence of a few dark streaks that point perpendicular to the dunes—the kind of thing that appears in the sheltered wake of some tall object that blocks the wind. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Frozen Pluto has wind-blown dunes made of methane sand," 31 May 2018 To diffuse the region’s harsh light, the architects designed stone fins to stand perpendicular to the side of the house and cast shadows on the exterior as a way to cool the space and create a lovely diffused light. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Garden-filled house keeps cool with sandstone," 25 Sep. 2018 Drejka pulled up in his SUV seconds later, parking perpendicular to Jacobs, according to the woman's account. Terry Spencer, Fox News, "White man charged with fatally shooting black man in Florida," 13 Aug. 2018 Drejka pulled up in his SUV seconds later, parking perpendicular to Jacobs. Terry Spencer, The Seattle Times, "Florida shooting: Man arrested in ‘stand your ground’ case," 13 Aug. 2018 The car is equipped with Enhanced Active Park Assist to make parallel and perpendicular parking easy. Juliet Izon, Good Housekeeping, "Why Your Kids Will Love a Trip to Philly as Much as the Magic Kingdom," 30 July 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

25 Jan 2019

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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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