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A grazing angle is almost parallel to the surface.

Is there another word for an angle almost perpendicular to the surface?

(Or is that just it?)

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Not about English as such but physics. – Kris Aug 21 '12 at 14:14
Would these terms work in this ELU question and answer? english.stackexchange.com/q/63429/18655 – JLG Aug 21 '12 at 14:19
Well, I don't think "grazing hit" is a technical physics term. That's a common English expression. – Jay Aug 21 '12 at 14:35
up vote 2 down vote accepted

There is oblique : Designating geometric lines or planes that are neither parallel nor perpendicular.

So an "oblique hit" would be an impact with a higher angle of incidence than your "grazing hit" but would not be a true perpendicular hit.

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This word fits. Although oblique excludes the chance of perpendicularity, it fits in the context that I am using this word. – bobobobo Aug 21 '12 at 15:12

Hmm, maybe "direct hit"? "Straight in?"

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"Head-on" might be a good possibility too. – Hellion Aug 21 '12 at 16:48

Consider near-normal, where normal means “(geometry) A line or vector that is perpendicular to another line, surface, or plane”, and also consider off-plumb, where plumb means “truly vertical” or “(informal) Squarely, directly; completely”.

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If you were talking about a technical discussion of geometry, I'd agree that "normal" is the correct word. But in day-to-day conversation, if you said, "That was a normal hit!" I don't think people would interpret this in the geometric sense. "Normal" is the opposite of "tangent" in this sense, not of "grazing". "Plumb on" is occassionally used to mean a straight-in hit, I'd endorse "plumb" or variations. – Jay Aug 21 '12 at 16:15

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