[ lat-er-uhl ]
See synonyms for: laterallaterally on

  1. of or relating to the side; situated at, proceeding from, or directed to a side: a lateral view.

  2. 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.

  1. Phonetics. articulated so that the breath passes on either or both sides of the tongue, as l.

  1. a lateral part or extension, as a branch or shoot.

  2. Mining. a small drift off to the side of a principal one.

  1. Phonetics. a lateral speech sound.

  2. Football. lateral pass.

verb (used without object)
  1. Football. to throw a lateral pass.

  2. to move laterally or sideways: migrating birds lateraling down into Cape May.

verb (used with object)
  1. Football. to throw (the ball) in a lateral pass.

Origin of lateral

First recorded in 1590–1600; from Latin laterālis “of the side,” equivalent to later- (stem of latus ) “side” + -ālis -al1

Other words from lateral

  • lat·er·al·ly, adverb
  • pseu·do·lat·er·al, adjective

Words Nearby lateral Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use lateral in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for 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

  1. a lateral object, part, passage, or movement

  2. phonetics a lateral speech sound

  1. botany a branch, leaf, or bud that grows out from the side of a stem or trunk

Origin of lateral

C17: from Latin laterālis, from latus side

Derived forms of lateral

  • laterally, adverb

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