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What is Lateral?


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Sorry, I have no idea what you're talking about. I've done drafting of one sort or another for about fifty years, and I haven't heard the term "lateral" in connection with drafting.


According to the dictionary, lateral drafting is an orthogonal force. Maybe lateral means perpendicular?

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Lateral simply means 'from the side'.


So a lateral view on a drawing would be a view from one side.

A lateral opening would be an opening in one side of something.

A lateral support would be a support for something from the side.

A lateral force would be a force that acts from the side.

And so on.

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If it is a civil engineering drawing it is most likely referring to a sewer (sanitary) lateral with the source being a building of some type (residential, commercial, institutional, etc.).

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Would need to know what type of engineering drawing to venture a more specific use of the term.


Generally speaking, when doing developments like cones, pyramids, prisms, transitions, etc. a lateral surface is what they call the developed surface.

Lateral Development of a Pyramid Final.jpg

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Yes, as ReMark and SLW210 say:


Lateral pipework - joins the main run from the side.

Lateral development - the development of the sides of a ploygon.


More engineering laterals:

Lateral access road - joins the main road from the side.

Lateral conveyor - brings items to the main conveyor, from the side.

Lateral drive (i)- a gearbox where an output is taken from the side.

Lateral drive (ii) - a drive on the side of a drum that turns it.


Not common in engineering but:

Unilateral - on one side.

Bilateral - on both sides.

Lateral thinking - Considering a problem from a different angle/side.


'Lateral' is all about 'sides'.


TBH though if you see the term 'Lateral' all on its own on a drawing then it's probably a pipe that feeds into a main (from the side).

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The civil plan from SLW might be the answer. Civil 3D explicitly calls that a plan & profile. The laterals, therefore, are profiles of lines that drain into the main line. The same tools work for sewers and storm drains.

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The field of endeavor is irrelevant, whether it is surgery or timber framing.


Lateral is always side to side, or from the side, or to the side. Lateral does not have to be horizontal (level at 180 deg) but it cannot be exactly vertical (90 deg off horizontal).


lat·er·al ˈladərəl,ˈlatrəl


1. of, at, toward, or from the side or sides.

"the plant takes up water through its lateral roots"

synonyms: sideways, sidewise, sideward, edgewise, edgeways, oblique,


"lateral movements"


1. a side part of something, especially a shoot or branch growing out from the

side of a stem.

2. PHONETICS a lateral consonant.


1. US throw (a football) in a sideways or backward direction.

"he tried to lateral a kick return but fumbled"

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