ver·​ti·​cal ˈvər-ti-kəl How to pronounce vertical (audio)
: perpendicular to the plane of the horizon or to a primary axis : upright
: located at right angles to the plane of a supporting surface
: lying in the direction of an axis : lengthwise
: situated at the highest point : directly overhead or in the zenith
of an aerial photograph : taken with the camera pointing straight down or nearly so
: relating to, involving, or integrating economic activity from basic production to point of sale
a vertical monopoly
: of, relating to, or comprising persons of different status
the vertical arrangement of society
medical : relating to or being transmission (as of a disease) by genetic inheritance or by a congenital or perinatal route
vertical inheritance
… decreasing the rate of vertical transmission of HIV to the fetus by two-thirds, so that the numbers of children with the condition are diminishing.Cynthia B. Cohen
compare horizontal sense 3
vertical noun
verticality noun
vertically adverb
verticalness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for vertical

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

Example Sentences

a shirt with vertical stripes the vertical axis of a graph
Recent Examples on the Web He was not invited to the NFL combine and had a 34-inch vertical, 10-foot, 2-inch broad jump and performed 16 bench press reps at Oregon’s pro day, which would have been in the middle of this year’s safeties at the combine. oregonlive, 30 Apr. 2023 His 44-inch vertical, 11-1 broad jump and 1.44 10-yard split was tops among safeties at the combine. Eddie Brown, San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 Apr. 2023 Talk To Several Potential Customers Talk to at least 10 potential customers or buyers prior to launching to understand where the real pain point is in your vertical—often, the solution is technically simple. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 20 Apr. 2023 Simply twist it to change the spray pattern from circular, horizontal, or vertical. Maya Polton, Better Homes & Gardens, 17 Mar. 2023 There are also four video screens, whether horizontal or vertical, that offer quivery views of such aerial phenomena as birds on a wire or a white streak across a blue sky. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 14 Apr. 2023 Aside from saving space, vertical gardening comes with other advantages, too. Lauren Wellbank, Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2023 Tornadoes form when certain ingredients are in place including high instability and vertical wind shear meaning winds are changing with height. Jeff Berardelli, CBS News, 5 Apr. 2023 Then put a flat tip into a pastry bag — Warren suggests a 16-inch bag — and fill with the diplomat cream and make a few vertical strokes on each slice. Caron Golden, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vertical.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French, from Late Latin verticalis, from Latin vertic-, vertex

First Known Use

1559, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of vertical was in 1559

Dictionary Entries Near vertical

Cite this Entry

“Vertical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
: directly overhead
: going straight up or down from a level surface
: of or relating to persons of higher or lower standing
a vertical social order


2 of 2 noun
: something (as a line or plane) that is vertical
: a vertical direction

from early French vertical or Latin verticalis, both meaning "relating to a vertex, at the highest point overhead," from earlier Latin vertic-, vertex "top, highest point, pole (turning point), whirl," from vertere "to turn" — related to converse, reverse, universe, versatile

Medical Definition


ver·​ti·​cal ˈvərt-i-kəl How to pronounce vertical (audio)
: relating to or being transmission (as of a disease) by genetic inheritance or by a congenital or perinatal route
vertical transmission of the hepatitis B virus from mother to infant
vertical inheritance
compare horizontal sense 2
vertically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on vertical

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