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[pur-puh n-dik-yuh-ler] /ˌpɜr pənˈdɪk yə lər/
vertical; straight up and down; upright.
Geometry. meeting a given line or surface at right angles.
maintaining a standing or upright position; standing up.
having a sharp pitch or slope; steep.
(initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to the last style of English Gothic architecture, prevailing from the late 14th through the early 16th century and characterized by the use of predominantly vertical tracery, an overall linear, shallow effect, and fine intricate stonework.
a perpendicular line or plane.
an instrument for indicating the vertical line from any point.
an upright position.
a sharply pitched or precipitously steep mountain face.
moral virtue or uprightness; rectitude.
Nautical. either of two lines perpendicular to the keel line, base line, or designed water line of a vessel.
Origin of perpendicular
1350-1400; < Latin perpendiculāris vertical, equivalent to perpendicul(um) plumb line (see perpend2, -i-, -cule2) + -āris -ar1; replacing Middle English perpendiculer(e) (adj. and adv.) < Old French perpendiculiere
Related forms
perpendicularity, perpendicularness, noun
perpendicularly, adverb
nonperpendicular, adjective, noun
nonperpendicularly, adverb
nonperpendicularity, noun
unperpendicular, adjective
unperpendicularly, adverb
1. standing. See upright. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for perpendicular
Historical Examples
  • “The world is beautiful,” she thought, and smiled at the fruitless efforts of a tiny beetle to climb up a perpendicular leaf.

    The Goose Man Jacob Wassermann
  • "Never," answered the mender of roads, recovering his perpendicular.

    A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
  • The perpendicular height of the Tower above the primary rock is not 15 feet, as Mr. Calvert says, but exactly 20 feet.

    Troy and its Remains Henry (Heinrich) Schliemann
  • Do you see that narrow ledge on the top of the perpendicular cliff on the right?

    A Hero of Our Time M. Y. Lermontov
  • The nave and part of the central tower were also rebuilt in the perpendicular style at the close of the fifteenth century.

  • This is a fine church in the perpendicular style, built in 1846.

    Hampstead and Marylebone Geraldine Edith Mitton
  • The walls are twelve feet in perpendicular height, and about fifty feet base.

    The Prehistoric World E. A. Allen
  • perpendicular slats are then fastened to these wires to which the shoots are tied.

  • He came to the conclusion that these barrels would form a thousand columns not far short of a mile in perpendicular height.

  • Parietes: walls: the perpendicular sides of elevated bodies.

British Dictionary definitions for perpendicular


Also normal. at right angles to a horizontal plane
denoting, relating to, or having the style of Gothic architecture used in England during the 14th and 15th centuries, characterized by tracery having vertical lines, a four-centred arch, and fan vaulting
upright; vertical
(geometry) a line or plane perpendicular to another
any instrument used for indicating the vertical line through a given point
(mountaineering) a nearly vertical face
Derived Forms
perpendicularity (ˌpɜːpənˌdɪkjʊˈlærɪtɪ) noun
perpendicularly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Latin perpendiculāris, from perpendiculum a plumb line, from per- through + pendēre to hang
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for perpendicular

late 15c., from adverb (late 14c.), from Old French perpendiculer, from Latin perpendicularis "vertical, as a plumb line," from perpendiculum "plumb line," from perpendere "balance carefully," from per- "thoroughly" (see per) + pendere "to weigh, to hang" (see pendant). As a noun from 1570s. Related: Perpendicularly; perpendicularity.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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perpendicular in Science
Adjective  Intersecting at or forming a right angle or right angles.

Noun  A line or plane that is perpendicular to a given line or plane.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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