Because I'm thinking of a certain spatial orientation, consider an example at hand. You are sitting at your keyboard which is flat on your desk. The keys ASDFJKL are arranged laterally, whereas the keys MKI8 are arranged [word goes here].

"Longitudinally" in this context becomes confusing, because it appears to mean the same direction as "laterally". "Laterally" seems most apt as I've used it, because it's used in regards to the orientation of the object (side to side). "Longitudinally" appears apt only because of the aspect ratio of the object (along the long dimension).

Anatomical terms and simple antonyms such as "medially" seem to suggest a location more so than a direction. Other suggested antonyms like "perpendicularly" or "crosswise" are ambiguous.

  • 2
    MKI8 are arranged vertically. Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 18:21
  • Longitude is the series of 24 vertical segments of time zones. Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 18:22
  • You could also say 'the keys MKI8 are perpendicular to ASDFGH'. Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 18:23
  • The emphasis on directionality with respect to the body doesn't make much sense for your example. If you turn the keyboard 90 degrees, it doesn't change the fact that ASDF are horizontal and MKI8 are vertical. These directions are defined with respect to the common reference point (in front of the keyboard), not with respect to where you happen to be standing. Your arms' positions, on the other hand, are typically with respect to your body, and extend radially, in a line toward/away from the body, Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 18:24
  • @NuclearWang: This is in the context of ergonomics, It is relevant to discuss the orientation of object features with respect to the body and motions thereof. Using vertically conflicts with other usage describing objects arranged along the axis on which gravity accelerates things. It might work, but I'd like to avoid the confusion. I think radially might be the best yet, though.
    – DGM
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 19:23

2 Answers 2


The medical term for front-to-back is sagittal.

Sagittal: A vertical plane passing through the standing body from front to back. The mid-sagittal, or median plane, splits the body into left and right halves.


But, however apt the word sagittally, "front-to-back" is (as opposed to laterally, "side-to-side"), it's not likely to be understood outside medical circles.

  • Also in medical terms "laterally" is on the side or sides rather than side-to-side.
    – Mike
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 20:32
  • 1
    @Mike True; a lateral plane runs from side to side (and separates front from back). Feel free to make that remark clearer -- I'm not sure I can.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 21:31

This is a bit of a stretch but in 3D co-ordinate math the horizontal (width axis) is called abscissa, the vertical (height axis) is called ordinate and the depth axis is called the applicate. So you could use the term "applicaly" or "applically"; you'd be inventing a word but it would be based in good etymology.

You'd have to explain it the first time you use it so if you're only using it once that doesn't help but if you're using it repeatedly that might make things flow better.

X, Y, Z — horizontal, vertical and ...? has more about the axis.

  • 1
    I'm beginning to think that it might just be less ambiguous to briefly describe a coordinate system (e.g. x,y,z) with the workspace and then refer to it as needed.
    – DGM
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 20:30

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