I'm looking for a word that states that two different concepts, although related, can vary independently from each other. For example, "politics and economics in a country are XXX to each other", where XXX is the word I'm looking for.

I've heard it in technical/scientific contexts, it has a certain geometrical ring to it. It's not "parallel", nor "perpendicular", and I can't quite remember it.

  • 1
    Downvoter: care to comment? how can I improve my question? Nov 1, 2015 at 1:44
  • "Complementary" or "complements"
    – user662852
    Nov 1, 2015 at 2:37

1 Answer 1


I think you're probably looking for the word orthogonal; however, it doesn't really imply the "although profoundly related" part (except insofar as we're not likely to need to clarify that two concepts are orthogonal if they're already completely unrelated).

The English Wiktionary defines the relevant senses this way:

  1. (software engineering) Of two or more aspects of a problem, able to be treated separately.
  2. Of two or more problems or subjects, independent of or irrelevant to each other.
  • That's it! thanks for your answer, and for clarifying that the concepts are not necessarily related (although they can be aspects of the same problem, as stated in the software engineering definition). Nov 1, 2015 at 1:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.