I’m wondering if there is a word used for using height to order something. Just like we say alphabetical order for things arranged by their spelling, or chronological order for things arranged by their dates, is there an x order, where x refers to things arranged by height?

I want to be able to say, “In the picture where the kids are in x order…”

I’m not sure how to look this up in a dictionary but have tried google, without any success. I also checked Merriam-Webster‘s thesaurus without any luck. (Pinnacle order? That doesn’t sound right.)

I expect the word I want would probably end in “-cal” but I guess it might not necessarily. I’m not sure the Latin or Greek behind the “-cal” in alphabetical and chronological.

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    The kids are in order of height, perhaps. But isn’t this obvious to the viewer?
    – Xanne
    Aug 22, 2023 at 6:04
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    I am curious about the motive for wanting to say it with an adjective ending in -ical when that is obviously not how it is said by everyone, for if it were, you would already know the word. What end is achieved by using an obscure word?
    – TimR
    Aug 22, 2023 at 8:15
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    You could look up collocating premodifiers of 'order' in a collocations dictionary. 'Alphabetical' and 'numerical' are two strong collocates. Aug 22, 2023 at 12:04
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    How are you defining height? Is "height" the person's physical "tallness" as measured when standing (outside the photo context) or is it the elevation of the head in the photo-space? What if a taller kid is seated, and a shorter sibling's head is at a higher height in the photo than the taller's head?
    – TimR
    Aug 22, 2023 at 13:32
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    I can't believe everyone missed it, higherarchical :) Aug 23, 2023 at 19:27

8 Answers 8


You can use height itself. It can serve as a noun adjunct in the noun phrase height order.

In the picture where the kids are in height order...

Hypsometrical is a scientific term with the meaning "relating to the measurement of altitudes/heights" and comes from a Greek root like chronological. However, it is only used in technical contexts mainly related to altitudes and elevations; and it won't work in colloquial speech, thus it can't be used in your context.

Hypsometric is a scientific term relating to the measurement of heights. The term originates from the Greek word ὕψος "hypsos" meaning height and the word metre is from the Greek μέτρον (métron), "a measure"


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    "in height order" is how my teachers always used to tell us to line up. I'm not sure why we needed to do it that way, but it was pretty common.
    – Barmar
    Aug 22, 2023 at 14:32
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    "in height order" sounds perfectly idiomatic to my British English ear - more so than any of the other options here
    – Ty Hayes
    Aug 22, 2023 at 15:57
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    I think this answer would be better if it dropped the stuff about hypsometrical entirely. As the answer itself states, no one would use the word in regard to the ordering of a line up of children in a photograph. Aug 22, 2023 at 17:45
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    This answer is great. I appreciated all the answers I’m reading here, 7 of them so far, but this hits the nail on the head. Both with hypsometrical and with height order. Hypsometrical is exactly the word I was hoping existed and was looking for (sometimes a person wants to use a technical word in a colloquial context among specific friends who know and understand that person because it’s the exact word for the job even if none of them has ever heard of it before), and height order is the obvious thing to use in regular conversation. Thank you!
    – fivestones
    Aug 22, 2023 at 19:54
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    @Barmar Was it picture day? It's so the photographer only has to adjust the seat in one direction
    – No Name
    Aug 23, 2023 at 0:11

You could say that you are ordering them heightwise. Wiktionary defines this as:

In terms of height; vertical.

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    That's a good, useful English suffix with many uses.
    – Wastrel
    Aug 22, 2023 at 14:56

Just adding another idiomatic possibility to the list:

... arranged by height

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    OP uses this in the title. I'm not sure why they need an alternative. Aug 22, 2023 at 11:25
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    @EdwinAshworth And I'm not sure why they needed to go looking for an obscure word when they already have a perfectly idiomatic expression at their fingertips. With this answer I'm gently chastising OP for not providing a rationale or context to justify the question. Besides, OP is in the long run irrelevant, as this answer will outlive their immediate need, and we wouldn't want to create the impression for some unsuspecting language learner that the obscure word, if one ever turns up, is as suitable as or more suitable than the tried-and-true, absent a specific description of the need.
    – TimR
    Aug 22, 2023 at 11:52
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    @TimR but don’t forget about all the native English speakers like me who also like me want to have the very specific word for the job even if it’s not the most idiomatic English. Why have all these great words like hypsometrical if they don’t get used? 😀 I’m very gently pushing back on your gentle chastising since I’m probably a very different person in my usage of English than you are—and that’s ok, and that’s why I asked this question 😃
    – fivestones
    Aug 22, 2023 at 20:02
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    Why did the chicken cross the road? -- To hear somebody using big words nobody knows.
    – TimR
    Aug 22, 2023 at 23:28
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    @TimR didn't it cross the road to effect a traversal? 🤓
    – traktor
    Aug 24, 2023 at 9:24

Perhaps the OP could be more specific as to which items (or organisms) they want to be ordered by height?

Ascending (from “shortest” to “tallest”) could work.
It's often associated by size or price rather than by height but if the context is quickly established who would raise an eyebrow? Alternatively, the phrase “ascending order of height” is the least equivocal.

Merriam-Webster offers this example of usage

The children were lined up in ascending order of height.

Just for the record, here are the most common file classifications, in alphabetical order:

  • alphabetical order
  • alphanumeric order
  • chronological order
  • numerical order
  • Ascending height (except for Kevin who doesn't follow directions well)
    – aslum
    Aug 22, 2023 at 13:57
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    I actually like this a lot. Thanks
    – fivestones
    Aug 22, 2023 at 20:03
  • And if your going the other way, it's descending order
    – No Name
    Aug 23, 2023 at 0:12
  • @aslum, I usually wore the dunce cap, on or off?
    – civitas
    Aug 23, 2023 at 17:53

Statural order is a word that could be used.

Of or relating to stature

  • 2
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    – Community Bot
    Aug 22, 2023 at 4:35
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    Interesting find. Although, it is a term used in biology, usually as in the phrase "statural growth". A phrase like "statural order" is not used and it won't work in colloquial speech. Perhaps you can add these details and add a definition of "stature".
    – ermanen
    Aug 22, 2023 at 6:45
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    Stature is definitely not the usual word for the height of a person. The usual word is height, which is very commonly used attributively (as in "height order").
    – Stuart F
    Aug 22, 2023 at 9:03
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    @StuartF It appears that the OP wants the ability to sort things by height, as if placing an order “if there is a word used for using height to order something“ Structural order is a possibility, I think.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 22, 2023 at 10:21

You could say tallest first, shortest last, shortest to tallest, or vice-versa.


When I was in elementary school, we were told to line up in "size places," meaning single file with shortest in front and tallest at rear. 1950s New York City


You could use "vertical". As in "I've arranged the children in vertical order". I wouldn't call it common phrasing but I believe it would be well understood. In most cases I think common phrasing would be "in order of height".


I'm surprised people are confusing the idea of a "stack" and "vertical". Stack can mean many things some connected with the notion of the vertical, some not. You can stack horizontally or call a random pile a stack. When I see vertical, I think perpendicular to the horizonal, upright, directly overhead, height. "He had me at a vertical advantage", is often a dole way to reference a height difference. The context stresses the difference not the reason for the difference. Perhaps one is a giant, or perhaps a child is "stacked" on the shoulders of a parent. In the SO's question the context was a picture, it seems difficult for me to think people would misunderstand the concept of "vertical" if they saw the children side by side and not "stacked". Granted, I tend to think more mathematically than most.

I still say the common phrasing is "in order of height", (or in "height order"). I'm impressed with Hypsometrical, but as noted "it won't work in colloquial speech" (i.e., you won't be commonly understood). Still, it's a great word :-).

That said it appears the concept of vertical isn't well understood either, but in the context of a picture I suspect many people would understand it. Given the confusion my suggestion generated, it's likely a bad choice unless you understand your target audience well.

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    Doesn't that imply that the kids are stacked on top of one another?
    – gidds
    Aug 22, 2023 at 11:20
  • Three other people seem to think so, but I can't imagine why. The word "stack" means that. Vertical simply implies a direction, or height. Sometimes it's used in the context of a hierarchy, but even there it implies "up-down", not stacked. Are you suggesting that a sentence like "The drunken men raised themselves from the horizontal to the vertical" implies the men were laying in a line and then formed a human pyramid?
    – Dweeberly
    Aug 22, 2023 at 16:34
  • For me, I think the issue is that while the tops of their heads may be displaced vertically, there's also horizontal distance too. And there's a lot more than just the tops of their heads: the majority of their bodies will overlap heightwise, so the vertical ordering is a lot less clear. (For example, the heights of their navels may not be in the same order.)
    – gidds
    Aug 22, 2023 at 17:34
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    @HighPerformanceMark I love your comment, it mades me immediately think of a new "collection" word ... a vertical of drunkards :-) ... I don't disagree, with the specific definition, but the word is used in broader contexts. I can see how an immediate connection with height might be confused in a text only description, but generally understood when associated with a picture (as was the OP's question). The word itself makes me thing "angle" but within that context I would understand 'height'. If I say "vertical cliff" the brain thinks "high", but the words don't explicitly imply that.
    – Dweeberly
    Aug 22, 2023 at 18:22
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    If someone said "in vertical order" to me, and I happened to understand what they meant (not a given), my first thought would be that "vertical" was the wrong word. Aug 23, 2023 at 4:31

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