"of or pertaining to the side," early 15c., from Olde French latéral (14c.) and directly from Latin lateralis "belonging to the side," from latus (genitive lateris) "the side, flank; lateral surface" (see latero-). Specific sense "situated on either side of the median vertical longitudinal plane of the body" [Century Dictionary] is from 1722. As a noun, from 1630s, "a side part;" as a type of pass to the side in U.S. football, it is attested from 1934 (short for lateral pass). Related: Laterally.
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