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    #1

    How often do you use "perpendicular" in everyday English if need be?

    This question might sound funny but there are some words that we use in India that might not be used in everyday speech in the US or the UK, although those words might not necessarily be wrong. For example, I used the word "elliptical" once and one of the teachers told me the word "oval" is more common. That's how this question came up in my mind. What about the world "perpendicular"? Do you use it in day to day conversation if you have to describe something that is perpendicular?


    Let's say you are waiting at an intersection at a red light. So the street perpendicular to it must have the green light but the cars there are not moving and you are on the phone describing this scenario to someone. How would you say it?


    I just thought up this scenario off the top of my head. If there is any other scenario you can think of where you might need to describe something that is perpendicular, how would you say it? Would you use the word "perpendicular" or you would use some other word?
    Last edited by BigMak; 30-Aug-2014 at 16:47.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: How often do you use "perpendicular" in everyday English if need be?

    "Perpendicular" is probably not common, but it is useful at times. Your example is interesting but it is common knowledge that the intersecting street would have a different light. I doubt this is described often.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: How often do you use "perpendicular" in everyday English if need be?

    ...and in that case (the road intersection) the Br Eng way of saying it would be either 'the road it intersects with/crosses' or 'the road at right-angles to it'. I'm not a mathmetician, and I think perpendicular could correctly be used. But I get the impression that people often use perpendicular as a loose synonym for vertical..

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    #4

    Re: How often do you use "perpendicular" in everyday English if need be?

    Quote Originally Posted by BigMak View Post
    Do you use it in day to day conversation if you have to describe something that is perpendicular?
    If I did, I would, but I imagine that years go by without my using the word.

  3. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: How often do you use "perpendicular" in everyday English if need be?

    All the above are good answers.

    As an extremely general rule, conversational English avoids long words rooted in Latin and Greek and favors short words with Anglo Saxon roots. So we'd be more likely to say that if our light is red, the cross street's light is probably green.

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    #6

    Re: How often do you use "perpendicular" in everyday English if need be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    So we'd be more likely to say that if our light is red, the cross street's light is probably green.

    Cross street - I didn't know that term. Thanks Charlie, that really helps.

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