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)

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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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

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 Large logs will be placed perpendicular to the stream in sod mats to increase roughness and decrease stress against streambanks. Megan Becka, cleveland, 5 Nov. 2021 An Ethiopian woman stands in front of a young boy, her left arm extended in perfectly perpendicular contrast to her uptight frame. Washington Post, 10 Sep. 2021 The homestead where Cary’s dad had grown up and where Cary himself had spent his earliest years was in a narrow canyon perpendicular to the prevailing winds, barely far enough below the snow line to be habitable. Thomas Mcguane, The New Yorker, 11 Oct. 2021 If a force pulls on an object in a direction perpendicular to its momentum, that object will move in a circle with the force pointing toward the center. Rhett Allain, Wired, 24 Sep. 2021 When the spin vector is perpendicular, however, the distinctions become starker. Anil Ananthaswamy, Scientific American, 21 Oct. 2021 The bottom horizontal portion that is perpendicular to the stem is going to be labeled as California Street. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 17 Oct. 2021 This motion could be towards you, away from you, or perpendicular to your line-of-sight. Ethan Siegel, Forbes, 1 Sep. 2021 Place the fish fillet skin-side down, perpendicular to grates. Washington Post, 17 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Place the vegetables on the grill perpendicular to the grates and cook until lightly charred on all sides, about 10 minutes. Washington Post, 2 Sep. 2021 Set the other sheet in the pan perpendicular to the first, pressing it into the edges., 25 May 2021 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, 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,, 6 Aug. 2020 Photos from the scene showed the plane perpendicular to highway lanes about 75 miles south of San Francisco. CBS News, 18 Feb. 2018 Photos from the scene showed the plane perpendicular to highway lanes about 75 miles south of San Francisco. CBS News, 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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Dictionary Entries Near perpendicular



perpendicular separation

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Statistics for perpendicular

Last Updated

21 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perpendicular.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on perpendicular

Nglish: Translation of perpendicular for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perpendicular for Arabic Speakers


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