# What is the opposite of "parallel" in architecture?

The two towers of the Verrazano Bridge are not parallel: they are slightly [???] to account for the curvature of the earth.

What is that word?

• "Angled" is a simple way to express it. Commented May 2, 2017 at 19:10
• I’d say they are slightly oblique.
– Jim
Commented May 2, 2017 at 20:29
• they are splayed Commented May 2, 2017 at 20:39
• They are tilted (away from each other). Commented May 2, 2017 at 21:12
• @Jim Ah, you didn't say 'to each other' and I read it in relation to their base. Though it seems slightly 'remote' to refer to their angle in relation to each other which iss o acute that they won't meet for nearly 4,000 miles. :) Commented May 2, 2017 at 22:41

I believe it's as simple as "nonparallel". A synonym for this is "oblique" ("slanting or inclined in direction or course or position--neither parallel nor perpendicular nor right-angled"). https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/nonparallel

• Oblique is not right for the towers. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 21:31

The opposite of parallel is right, orthogonal, normal or perpendicular. But these towers are not the opposite of parallel, they're simply not parallel. So you could just say "not parallel". You could also say "at an angle to each other". Technically, parallel lines are at angle of 0, and 0 is a number, but people will know what you mean. You could also say they "diverge" or "are divergent". Here, it would be implicit that they diverge as one goes up.

• I guess I would be wrong to say they converge or are convergent.
– Stan
Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 20:48
• @Stan If you look at what happens when you start at the top and go down, they do converge, but I think it's more natural to treat things as "starting" at the ground and going up. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 20:49
• Oh, I gathered that mention of the centre of the earth was some sort of reference. It's not important.
– Stan
Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 20:54
• The opposite of parallel is intersecting...which includes lines that are perpendicular(etc.) but also includes a whole bunch of other lines. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 21:53
• Can you to cite any geometry reference that says perpendicular is the OPPOSITE of parallel? Perpendicular is just a special form of intersection. Anything that is not perpendicular by definition intersects at some point in space. Asking a question about the opposite of parallel is really a form of double negative, which is also by definition an ambiguous phrase. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 22:19

Use of a descriptive word along with "parallel" seems appropriate here - adverbs like almost, approximately, virtually, or visually.

The nature of the construction and the deviance from parallel is so small that using a completely different word would seem to convey greater difference than is actually present. The two bridge towers are almost (but not quite) parallel, differing, top distance vs. base distance, by a small but significant 41.26 mm. They are:

"virtually" parallel. or "approximately" parallel

or

They "deviate" from being truly parallel.

Example: Though virtually parallel, they actually deviate from parallel by 41.26 mm at top to correct for the curvature of the earth.

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/virtually

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/deviate

• near-parallel was what I was thinking. Not catchy, but accurate and descriptive. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 22:36

I think you could go with askew:

out of line : at an angle
from m-w.com

• "The two towers of the Verrazano Bridge are askew." Hmm ... Commented May 2, 2017 at 20:28
• Askew has the connotation of “out of position” and not by design to me.
– Jim
Commented May 2, 2017 at 20:30
• @Jim, The full sentence "The two towers ... are slightly askew to account for the curvature of the earth" reads fine, implies the direction of the 'askewity', and negates the "not-by-design" connotation. Commented May 2, 2017 at 20:30
• Yeah, that makes it better.
– Jim
Commented May 2, 2017 at 20:40
• @Jim to an architect, I don't think that would be true. askew is used in architecture simply to mean "not orthogonal". It doesn't necessarily have a negative connotation. Commented May 2, 2017 at 23:28

They are divergent or diverging

Drawing apart from a common point; diverging. (Free Dictionary #1)

"Angled". But, uh, in your picture it is clearly the pincushion distortion of the lens that is doing a much more thorough job of sabotaging parallelism than Earth curvature (the radius is something like 4000mi after all). And after pincushion distortion, there is perspective distortion. And of course you'd not make the pillars of a suspended bridge vertical anyway but angle them outwards so that the combined load of their weight and the rope tension will point towards their foundation.

• Excellent analysis. Made me chuckle. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 21:03
• the towers are 1 5⁄8 in (41.275 mm) farther apart at their tops than at their bases; they are not parallel to each other. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verrazano-Narrows_Bridge#Statistics Yes, angled outward. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 21:51

Divergent seems sensible to me

• You say? Infinitely? Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 21:04
• Or "convergent", even. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 22:37
• Your effort to help is welcome. To show that yours is the right answer, it should include explanation, context, and supporting facts. For example, you could offer evidence such as the definition from a good online dictionary. You could contrast your answer with other answers. Whatever would make this the right answer, instead of an opinion. This is what makes answers useful – to the asker, and to future visitors. See: “Real questions have answers, not items or ideas or opinions”. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 23:21

In electricity the opposite of "parallel" is "series" relative to connections. It would also apply to these towers as they appear in series along the bridge roadway.

• That's quite witty, dude! Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 23:50

there are many good answers here for what you want, but technically none of them are the opposite of parallel. that would be perpendicular or orthogonal

If the word "parallel" is used in the computational process, or some other process task, you can use "serial" as oposit of "parallel".

• Example 1:

My computer can process 8 tasks in parallel.

The oposite

My computer has an serial processor.

• Example 2:

My team can perform 10 process in parallel (i.e. in the same time)

The oposite

My team can perform only processes serially

Although it doesn't quite fit into your sample sentence, the word radial describes the tilted arrangement of the bridge towers:

Of or arranged like rays or the radii of a circle; diverging in lines from a common centre.
Oxford Dictionaries

• +1, but it would not hurt to make it clear that the center referred to is the center of gravity (centroid) of the earth. Commented May 3, 2017 at 8:11
• @SenexÆgyptiParvi: The towers would have to be perpendicular to the earth's surface for that to be true. Given the length of the bridge, the tilt would not be very noticeable, and the towers would appear to be parallel. More likely, the tilt of the towers is governed by the arch of the bridge itself. The bridge is likely arched to allow it to handle more weight.
– jxh
Commented May 3, 2017 at 8:20
• @jxh - Speaking as a bridge engineer: for a suspension bridge you wouldn't tilt the towers in order to arch the bridge, as the tower and the bridge deck can meet at any angle. Rather, you would make the towers vertical in order to ensure that the load is purely axial, rather than introducing eccentricity which would cause additional moments. As covered in the question "the towers are [not parallel] to account for the curvature of the earth": this exactly means that the towers are perpendicular to the earth's surface. Commented May 3, 2017 at 10:17
• @AndyT: That makes more sense, but the photo does make it look like the towers tilt away from each other.
– jxh
Commented May 3, 2017 at 10:21
• @jxh - Probably just perspective. As you say: "Given the length of the bridge, the tilt would not be very noticeable" - per Wikipedia the towers are only 41mm further apart at the top than the bottom. Although, given that article states that the towers are 211m high, 41mm horizontal sounds less then the construction tolerance (i.e. I'd be surprised if they could build the top to within 50mm of where it's supposed to be). This 41mm sounds theoretical rather than practical to me! Commented May 3, 2017 at 10:31

"Converging" would the most apt descriptor for "not parallel" in my opinion, as geometrically speaking any lines which are not parallel can accurately be said to converge or diverge.