2

My research involves rectangles that differ in their width/height ratio, and I am looking for words to describe them. Specifically, consider these 4 rectangles.

screenshot

What adjective describes a rectangle whose height is much larger than the width (like the light-blue one)?

What adjective describes a rectangle whose height is larger than the width, but not very much (like the light-green one)?

What adjective describes all rectangles whose height is larger than the width (like the two light-colored)?

What adjective describes a rectangle whose width is much larger than the height (like the dark-blue one)?

What adjective describes a rectangle whose width is larger than the height, but mildly (like the dark-green one)?

What adjective describes all rectangles whose width is larger than the height (like the two dark-colored)?

What adjective describes a rectangle with extreme difference between width and height (like the two blue-colored)?

What adjective describes a rectangle with mild difference between width and height (like the two green-colored)?

  • Rectangles are shapes - for most purposes, independent of their horizontal/vertical orientation. Concepts such as tall, squat, flat, wide don't really make much sense when applied to the shape itself. Height/width only means something when some physical object has a shape, and it's inherent in the object that it has a "natural" orientation. A "tall rectangular flower vase" would be "long, wide" if it were laying on its side, but in practice that's not how we expect to see it. – FumbleFingers May 27 '13 at 13:10
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Mathematically a 4x3 and a 3x4 rectangle are identical, but perceptually they are quite different, and OP's research may require him to make these distinctions - for instance, if he is looking at how orientation affects perception of actual proportions. – StoneyB May 27 '13 at 15:42
4

You can describe the two rectangles for which H/W > 1.0 as tall, and the two for which H/W < 1.0 as wide or broad. The two tall rectangles could be distinguished as tall and skinny, the two wide ones as wide and flat. The two extreme rectangles could be described as skinny or narrow or thin, but antonyms of these terms, wide, fat would not serve well to describe the less extremely proportioned ones; I can't think of a term which would work.

If you are going to be working only with rectangles of these four basic proportions you can refer to them by arbitrary labels,A, B, C, D, or by color (but you'll have to have a more distinct palette). If you are going to be using rectangles of many proportions, I suggest that in a research paper it would be proper to use numeric values reflecting the H/W ratio, perhaps with arbitrary designations of particular ranges; for example:

In what follows I will employ the following designations:

. . .  H/W < 0.25  ‘flat’
0.25 ≤ H/W < 0.80  ‘wide’
0.80 ≤ H/W ≤ 1.25  ‘square’
1.25 < H/W ≤ 4.0   ‘tall’
4.0  < H/W . . .   ‘skinny’

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.