from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of, relating to, or situated at or on the side.
  • adj. Of or constituting a change within an organization or a hierarchy to a position at a similar level, as in salary or responsibility, to the one being left: made a lateral move within the company.
  • adj. Linguistics Of, relating to, or being a sound produced by breath passing along one or both sides of the tongue.
  • n. A lateral part, projection, passage, or appendage.
  • n. Football A lateral pass.
  • n. Linguistics A lateral sound, such as (l).
  • intransitive v. To execute a lateral pass.
  • transitive v. To pass (the ball) sideways or backward.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. To the side; of or pertaining to the side.
  • adj. Pertaining to the left or right of the body; further from the midline.
  • adj. this sense?) (botany) Pertaining to the girth of an organ, rather than its thickness or length.
  • adj. Pertaining to sounds that are generated by partially blocking the egress of the airstream with the tip of the tongue touching the alveolar ridge, leaving space on one or both sides of the occlusion for the air passage.
  • n. an object, such as a passage or a protrusion, that is situated on the side of something else
  • n. a sound produced through lateral pronunciation (such as /l/ in lateral)
  • n. a lateral pass
  • v. To move (oneself or something) in a lateral direction
  • v. To execute a lateral pass

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to the sides
  • adj. Lying at, or extending toward, the side; away from the mesial plane; external; -- opposed to mesial.
  • adj. Directed to the side.
  • n. A short pass to a receiver who is upfield from the passer, i.e. is behind the passer relative to the direction of the passer's goal.
  • n. A part or extension of something that points sideways, as a drift in a mine that goes to the side from the main one.
  • v. To pass the footbal to a receiver who is behind the passer; to make a lateral pass.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of or pertaining to the side; situated at, proceeding from, or directed to a side: as, a lateral projection; lateral shoots or branches; a lateral view.
  • In anatomy and zoology, situated on either side of the median vertical longitudinal plane of the body; lying laterad of the meson: as, the lateral ventricles of the brain; the lateral line of a fish; the lateral margin of a thorax, elytrum, or abdomen.
  • In conchology, specifically, situated on either side of the hinge: contrasted with cardinal: as, the lateral tooth of a bivalve. Also admedian.
  • In botany, belonging to or borne upon the side of any organ: sometimes contrasted with terminal (as, lateral buds), sometimes with medial (as, lateral ribs or nerves of a leaf or glume).
  • In physics and mech., at right angles to a line of motion or of strain.
  • n. In conch.:
  • n. A lateral or admedian tooth of a bivalve, as distinguished from a cardinal tooth. See cut under bivalve.
  • n. One of the uncini, or uncinal teeth of the radula.
  • n. A side branch or division of anything; a part projecting from one side; specifically, in a grape-vine, one of the side shoots which spring from the axils of the leaves of a main shoot.
  • n. A small ditch or distributary from a main or principal irrigation ditch.
  • n. plural In the pelecypod mollusks, the lateral hinge-teeth, those lying at the sides or ends of the hinge-plate, anterior or posterior to the median or cardinal teeth.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. situated at or extending to the side
  • adj. lying away from the median and sagittal plane of a body
  • n. a pass to a receiver upfield from the passer


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin laterālis, from latus, later-, side.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin laterālis ("belonging to the side"), from latus ("a side")



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  • Hunh, the grey definitions up above don't even include the common phonetic terms:

    adj. produced by one side of the tongue, as in various kinds of /l/ sound;

    n. a lateral consonant; an /l/ sound.

    But I actually dropped by here to add a new sense I just found:

    n. a lateral hire, a person hired laterally (such as from a rival firm).

    August 28, 2008