• synonyms


[lat-er-uh l]
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  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.
  3. Phonetics. articulated so that the breath passes on either or both sides of the tongue, as l.
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  1. a lateral part or extension, as a branch or shoot.
  2. Mining. a small drift off to the side of a principal one.
  3. Phonetics. a lateral speech sound.
  4. Football. lateral pass.
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verb (used without object)
  1. Football. to throw a lateral pass.
  2. to move laterally or sideways: migrating birds lateraling down into Cape May.
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verb (used with object)
  1. Football. to throw (the ball) in a lateral pass.
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Origin of lateral

1590–1600; < Latin laterālis of the side, equivalent to later- (stem of latus) side + -ālis -al1
Related formslat·er·al·ly, adverbpseu·do·lat·er·al, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

parallel, sideways

Examples from the Web for laterally

Historical Examples

  • Roots: Strong, deeply fixed in the earth, but not laterally.

    Plant Lore, Legends, and Lyrics

    Richard Folkard

  • Laterally each is united with the pterygoid and opisthotic of its side.

    The Vertebrate Skeleton

    Sidney H. Reynolds

  • The whole body is depressed, instead of laterally compressed.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide

    Augusta Foote Arnold

  • The U-tube holding the specimen may be adjusted up and down, and laterally.

    Life Movements in Plants

    Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose

  • In the Sea Snakes (Hydrophid), it is laterally much compressed.

    Reptiles and Birds

    Louis Figuier

British Dictionary definitions for laterally


  1. of or relating to the side or sidesa 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
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  1. a lateral object, part, passage, or movement
  2. phonetics a lateral speech sound
  3. botany a branch, leaf, or bud that grows out from the side of a stem or trunk
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Derived Formslaterally, adverb

Word Origin

C17: from Latin laterālis, from latus side
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

Word Origin and History for laterally



early 15c., from Middle French latéral and directly from Latin lateralis "belonging to the side," from latus (genitive lateris) "side" (see oblate (n.)). As a noun, from 1630s, "a side part." As a type of pass to the side in U.S. football, it is attested from 1934. Related: Laterally.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

laterally in Medicine


  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.
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  1. A lateral part, position, or appendage.
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Related formslater•al•ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.