Definition of perpendicular in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌpəːp(ə)nˈdɪkjʊlə/


1At an angle of 90° to a given line, plane, or surface or to the ground: dormers and gables that extend perpendicular to the main roofline
More example sentences
  • The minor axis is perpendicular to the plane of rotation of the galaxy.
  • Then, since both semicircles are perpendicular to the plane ABC, so is their line of intersection QN.
  • Subsequently, one defines planes perpendicular to such lines, positioning them at the midpoint between the connected particles.
at right angles, at 90 degrees, square
1.1At an angle of 90° to the ground; vertical: the perpendicular cliff
More example sentences
  • Most people touring the 302-square-kilometre Lushan National Park will be unruffled when they stand in front of perpendicular cliffs and look down on deep valleys.
  • It now is closed off by the forestry and is about four feet from the edge of a cliff which has a perpendicular drop of 700 ft overlooking the Masshill road.
  • The elevation of the Planalto exceeds 1000 m at the eastern end close to the Atlantic coast, and the Serra Geral facing the east forms a perpendicular cliff.
upright, vertical, erect, plumb, straight (up and down), on end, standing, upended
1.2So steep as to be almost vertical: houses seem to cling by blind faith to the perpendicular hillside
steep, sheer, precipitous, abrupt, bluff, vertiginous
rare scarped, acclivitous, declivitous
2 (Perpendicular) Denoting the latest stage of English Gothic church architecture, prevalent from the late 14th to mid 16th centuries and characterized by broad arches, elaborate fan vaulting, and large windows with vertical tracery: the handsome Perpendicular church of St Andrew the Perpendicular style
More example sentences
  • The cruciform church has huge Perpendicular windows, which until the C18 retained their medieval stained glass.
  • The cathedral is the former Perpendicular parish church, reconstructed in 1880, with further extensions completed in 1966.
  • This was unusual: a concave-sided pyramid roof supporting a high flèche rising above a Perpendicular gothic square tower to create a profile curiously reminiscent of the Empire State Building.


1A straight line at an angle of 90° to a given line, plane, or surface: at each division draw a perpendicular representing the surface line
More example sentences
  • From the vertices of ABC drop perpendiculars on the transversal.
  • Roughly 50-60% of the cool air coming in is diverted by the perpendiculars of the optical and/or hard drives.
  • In other words, x-axis consists of the feet of the perpendiculars from the focus to the tangents to the parabola.
1.1 [mass noun] (usually the perpendicular) Perpendicular position or direction: the wall declines from the perpendicular a little inward
More example sentences
  • It is gilded, sinuous (especially in the context of Lower Manhattan's perpendiculars and horizontals) and represents Civic Fame.



Pronunciation: /ˌpəːp(ə)ndɪkjʊˈlarɪti/
Example sentences
  • According to him, the chair, which is a version of Rietveld's chair, is a formal one, which represents perpendicularity and horizontality.
  • In a 22-km/h breeze it was remarkable what perpendicularity the guy on the controls could achieve.
  • It must be possible to train your mind to handle this extra perpendicularity.


Pronunciation: /pəːp(ə)nˈdɪkjʊləli/
Example sentences
  • Keeping the torso vertical, take a step rearward lowering the body perpendicularly to the floor.
  • If you whack at a stalk perpendicularly, I learned, your machete simply bounces back.
  • This enzyme is composed of two distinct subcomplexes, arranged perpendicularly to each other in an L-shaped structure, which undergo independent assembly.


Late Middle English (as an adverb meaning 'at right angles'): via Old French from Latin perpendicularis, from perpendiculum 'plumb line', from per- 'through' + pendere 'to hang'.

  • Those who remember school geometry lessons involving instructions to ‘drop a perpendicular’ may not be surprised to find that the source of this word is Latin perpendiculum ‘plumb line’, formed from per- ‘through’ and pendere ‘to hang’. The first recorded use of the loosened sense ‘very steep’ is found in Shakespeare's ‘That sprightly Son of Scots, Douglas, that runs a-horseback up a hill perpendicular’ (Henry IV, Part I, Act 2 scene 5).

Words that rhyme with perpendicular

auricular, curricula, curricular, diverticula, funicular, lenticular, navicular, particular, vehicular, vermicular

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: per|pen¦dicu|lar

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