of or pertaining to the side; situated at, proceeding from, or directed to a side: a lateral view.
pertaining to or entailing a position, office, etc., that is different but equivalent or roughly equivalent in status, as distinguished from a promotion or demotion: a lateral move.
Phonetics. articulated so that the breath passes on either or both sides of the tongue, as l.
a lateral part or extension, as a branch or shoot.
Mining. a small drift off to the side of a principal one.
Phonetics. a lateral speech sound.
Football. lateral pass.
verb (used without object)
Football. to throw a lateral pass.
to move laterally or sideways: migrating birds lateraling down into Cape May.
verb (used with object)
Football. to throw (the ball) in a lateral pass.

1590–1600; < Latin laterālis of the side, equivalent to later- (stem of latus) side + -ālis -al1

laterally, adverb
pseudolateral, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
lateral (ˈlætərəl)
1.  of or relating to the side or sides: a lateral blow
2.  phonetics (of a speech sound like l) pronounced with the tip of the tongue touching the centre of the alveolar ridge, leaving space on one or both sides for the passage of the airstream
3.  a lateral object, part, passage, or movement
4.  phonetics a lateral speech sound
5.  botany a branch, leaf, or bud that grows out from the side of a stem or trunk
[C17: from Latin laterālis, from latus side]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1560s (implied in laterally), from L. lateralis "belonging to the side," from latus (gen. lateris) "side" (see oblate (n.)). As a type of pass to the side in U.S. football, it is attested from 1934. Related: Laterally.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

lateral lat·er·al (lāt'ər-əl)

  1. Relating to or situated at or on the side.

  2. Situated or extending away from the median plane of the body.

  3. Relating to the left or right lateral region of the abdomen.

A lateral part, position, or appendage.
lat'er·al·ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


in phonetics, a consonant sound produced by raising the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth so that the airstream flows past one or both sides of the tongue. The l sounds of English, Welsh, and other languages are laterals

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Lateral buds grow along the sides of a shoot and give rise to the sideways
  growth that makes a plant bushy.
Once the plant is growing well, gradually begin pinching or pruning off lateral
  growth at the plant's base.
They have a lateral line down their whole body that senses motion, but maybe it
  does more than that.
Moreover, our pelvic anatomy exerts so-called lateral pressure on our lower
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