September 11, 2011
- perpendicular (adjective)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : exactly vertical or upright2 : forming a right angle with each other or with a given line or plane
- How do you use it?
- "Away to the northward out to sea ran a line of bars and shoals and rocks that would never let a ship come within six miles of the beach; and between the islands and the mainland was a stretch of deep water that ran up to the perpendicular cliffs . . ." (Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book)
- Are you a word wiz?
"Perpendicular" comes from a word family that also includes "suspend," "pendant," and "pendulum." Which of the Latin roots below do you think is the common ancestor of all those words?If you're just hanging around, this is the perfect question for you! If you think carefully about the meanings of all the words we mentioned above, they might help you to guess that they developed from answer B, "pendere," which means "to hang." Something that is perpendicular appears as if it is hanging straight up and down. The word "suspend" means "to hang." A pendant hangs from something (your neck, for example), and a pendulum is something that hangs from a fixed point so it can swing back and forth freely.