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Vertical Vs Lateral, The Correct Way To Use Them In Writing

Vertical Vs Lateral, The Correct Way To Use Them In Writing

There are several ways of defining each one of these words. There’s certainly a difference between vertical and lateral. But not everybody knows how to use these expressions correctly.

You can use vertical and lateral as adjectives and nouns. It all depends on the context. And how you use them in sentences will vary depending on how they are functioning at the time of writing.

Here we will explain more about these two terms. We will start by looking at their origin and etymology. And then, we will see their meanings as nouns and adjectives. You will have the opportunity to see some sample sentences. You will see how vertical and lateral are present in pop culture. We will also see some theories around thinking vertically and laterally.

Origin And Etymology Of Vertical And Lateral

We will see the origin of these words according to many sources:

Origin And Etymology Of Vertical

The word vertical comes from the Medieval Latin word “verticalis.” In Latin, the word “vertex” referred to the crown of the human’s head.

Origin And Etymology Of Lateral

The word lateral is related to the Latin word “lateralia,” which means “side.”

Vertical Vs. Lateral: As Adjectives

As adjectives, vertical refers to something straight placed over a surface. It can also mean something goes straight up.

Lateral refers to things located to the side of something else. It can mean something goes from one side to another.


Vertical Vs. Lateral: As Nouns

As a noun, vertical means an object or structure that goes from top to bottom. The word verticality is another noun associated with the same meaning.

Lateral means something situated on the side of another thing. Usually used when a branch is growing out of a tree.

Vertical Vs. Lateral: As Verbs

You cannot use the word vertical as a verb. The correct verb that comes from this word is the derived word “verticalize.”

The word lateral can be a verb. It means to move something from one side to another.

Other Uses Of The Word Vertical

Vertical In Music

The term vertical, also known as harmonic, refers to the sound created by two notes.

The vertical approach has its origins from the Stravinsky era. Here musicians started to include more complexity into their compositions.

Vertical In Wine Tasting


It is an event where people get to taste different versions of the exact wine. The variations are the year and aging techniques.

Vertical In Sports

  • Vertical skyrunning is one of the five disciplines in skyrunning. It requires the highest distance of 5km. The average incline of the track must be 20%, and a minimum distance is required to be over 33% incline. Athletes often practice by running up the stairs in skyscrapers.
  • The vertical jump is a measurement used in different sports. The athlete needs to jump as high as possible to measure how high they can reach. The test can be done standing or running. It’s a significant performance metric in sports like basketball, high jump, and volleyball.

Vertical In Geometry

Vertical angles are the opposite angles found in a pair of lines that cross each other, forming an X shape.

Vertical In Microeconomics

Vertical integration is a strategy where a company controls or owns its suppliers.

Vertical In Popular Culture

Here’s a list of some movies, companies, and novels that have employed the term vertical:

  • In 2000, Martin Campbell released a movie entitled Vertical Limit. The film tells us about Peter Garret. A mountain climber went on a rescue mission when his sister got trapped in K2.
  • Vertical aerospace is the name of a British privately held aerospace manufacturer. It was founded in 2016 and is looking to develop electrically powered aircraft.
  • In 2010, the American novelist Rex Pickett released the title “Vertical.” It is the second novel out of the sideways trilogy.
  • Vertical blinds are a type of window blind. Designers recommend this type for doors or windows that roll sideways. You can also find them in offices.
  • The vertical loop is the O-shaped section located on some roller coasters. It is where riders experience a 360-degree turn.

Different Uses Of The Word Lateral


Lateral In Recruitment

Lateral hiring occurs when recruiters contact people who are working for other companies. The recruiters make them better offers to switch jobs.

Lateral In Maritime Pilotage

A lateral buoy is a visual sea mark that indicates the edge of a channel. The International Association of Lighthouse Authorities suggests the use of different colors and forms.

Lateral In Phonetics

  • A lateral consonant is the one where the tip of your tongue touches your palate or teeth. Then the airflow comes from the vocal tract and goes sideways. An example of this is the consonant sound of /l/.
  • A lateral release happens when you switch from a stop consonant sound to a lateral sound. For example, when you pronounce the word middle, here /d/ is the stop sound, and /l/ is the lateral sound.

Lateral In Anatomy

This term is used in anatomy because it is easier than using left or right. Left and right are difficult because of the mirror effect. To solve this issue, healthcare professionals refer to the sides as lateral.

  • The term lateral is used in anatomy to refer to the parts of the body located sideways.
  • The lateral cricoarytenoid is a muscle in the larynx and helps the vocal cords to create sounds.
  • A Lateral release is an orthopedic surgery performed on the kneecap.

Lateral In American Football

A lateral pass in American football is when one player throws the football sideways. Then a teammate catches the football.

Vertical Thinking Vs. Lateral Thinking

Vertical and lateral thinking is a series of theories. They want to define how people make decisions. They are opposite to each other, and now, we will see some of their differences.

Personality Of The Vertical Thinking Vs. The Lateral Thinking

The vertical thinker is analytical and sequential. Which means this person will try to use logic to understand the situation that is going on. Once the vertical thinker knows the facts, then this person will start to take action based on past experiences.

The lateral thinker is less systematic. This person takes action based on what’s happening at the moment. Suppose a lateral thinker understands its judgment is not correct. In that case, this person is willing to explore new ways of doing things.

Approach Of The Vertical Thinking Vs. The Lateral Thinking

The vertical thinker will always aim for a traditional approach. This person doesn’t like to challenge the status quo. Basically, the structural approach assumes that something that worked in the past will also work in the future.

Those who are lateral thinkers tend to be more creative and innovative. This person believes that we must explore new ways of doing things. Also, the innovative thinker will focus on those events that are less likely to occur.

How Vertical And Lateral Thinkers Complement Each Other

Vertical and lateral thinkers can complement each other even though they are opposite approaches. A vertical thinker can help a lateral thinker to develop and put in place new ideas.

The Lateral thinker can assist the traditional thinker. The creative can help to improve the most promising concepts. In contrast, the conventional thinker uses what they already know.

Most children are lateral thinkers. But as we grow up, we lose these skills. Primarily because of the structured way we learn things in school. But, it is not difficult to find lateral thinkers. And you can also develop these skills by practicing.

Example Sentences Using Vertical

  1. The French flag has three vertical stripes in blue, white, and red.
  2. People can argue living in a house is better than living in an apartment building. Still, I think vertical structures are the future.
  3. There is a reason why prison bars are vertical.
  4. Fashion gurus will preach the benefits of vertical stripes patterns, especially if you want to seem thinner.
  5. There’s a new trend around vertical gardening. It is just an example of how limited our spaces can get in big cities.

Example Sentences Using Lateral

  1. The lateral of this building is weak; it requires support.
  2. Lateral moves happen in this company all the time; we must learn how each department operates.
  3. I thought we agreed you would only cut the laterals out of this tree.
  4. Instead of a promotion, I opted for a lateral move to a related position in the purchasing department.

Other Terms Derived From The Words Vertical And Lateral

  • Verticality
  • Vertically
  • Bilateral
  • Contralateral
  • Ipsilateral
  • Unilateral

Final Thoughts About The Usage Of Vertical And Lateral

You can use both terms, vertical and lateral, as nouns and adjectives. Lateral is also a verb, depending on the context.

Vertical is a simple term, and as you can see, it is widespread. It is present in music, sports, wine tasting, and pop culture. Lateral is highly present in anatomy. Also in language phonetics, company hiring process, and maritime pilotage.

We have learned the meaning of vertical and lateral. Who would have thought you could use these two words in lots of aspects of our lives!


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