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

enter image description here

What is that word?

  • 2
    "Angled" is a simple way to express it. – jejorda2 May 2 '17 at 19:10
  • 1
    I’d say they are slightly oblique. – Jim May 2 '17 at 20:29
  • 2
    they are splayed – Phil Sweet May 2 '17 at 20:39
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    They are tilted (away from each other). – Xanne May 2 '17 at 21:12
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    @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. :) – Spagirl May 2 '17 at 22:41

12 Answers 12


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. – Lambie Oct 3 '18 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.

  • 1
    I guess I would be wrong to say they converge or are convergent. – Stan Oct 3 '18 at 20:48
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    @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. – Acccumulation Oct 3 '18 at 20:49
  • Oh, I gathered that mention of the centre of the earth was some sort of reference. It's not important. – Stan Oct 3 '18 at 20:54
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    The opposite of parallel is intersecting...which includes lines that are perpendicular(etc.) but also includes a whole bunch of other lines. – user3067860 Oct 3 '18 at 21:53
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    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. – Robert Cline Oct 3 '18 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


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.



  • near-parallel was what I was thinking. Not catchy, but accurate and descriptive. – Jamie Clinton Oct 3 '18 at 22:36

I think you could go with askew:

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

  • 1
    "The two towers of the Verrazano Bridge are askew." Hmm ... – Ricky May 2 '17 at 20:28
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    Askew has the connotation of “out of position” and not by design to me. – Jim May 2 '17 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. – Hellion May 2 '17 at 20:30
  • Yeah, that makes it better. – Jim May 2 '17 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. – ell May 2 '17 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.


Divergent seems sensible to me

  • You say? Infinitely? – user22542 Oct 3 '18 at 21:04
  • Or "convergent", even. – Beanluc Oct 3 '18 at 22:37
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    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”. – MetaEd Oct 3 '18 at 23:21

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. – Senex Ægypti Parvi May 3 '17 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 May 3 '17 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. – AndyT May 3 '17 at 10:17
  • @AndyT: That makes more sense, but the photo does make it look like the towers tilt away from each other. – jxh May 3 '17 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! – AndyT May 3 '17 at 10:31

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! – Ricky Oct 3 '18 at 23:50

"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.

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