# Ordinate vs. Abscissa: What's the Difference?

By Aimie Carlson || Updated on May 23, 2024
The ordinate is the y-coordinate in a Cartesian coordinate system, representing vertical position, while the abscissa is the x-coordinate, representing horizontal position.

## Key Differences

The ordinate in a Cartesian coordinate system refers to the y-coordinate. It indicates the vertical position of a point relative to the origin, measuring how far up or down the point is on the y-axis. The ordinate is crucial for determining the vertical aspect of a point's location in the plane. The abscissa, on the other hand, is the x-coordinate in the same system. It represents the horizontal position of a point relative to the origin, showing how far left or right the point is on the x-axis. The abscissa is essential for understanding the horizontal component of a point's position.
In graphing, the ordinate helps in plotting the vertical distances of points. It is particularly important when analyzing functions or data trends that depend on vertical displacement. The ordinate often corresponds to the dependent variable in a function.
The abscissa aids in plotting horizontal distances of points. It typically corresponds to the independent variable in a function, providing a basis for understanding the horizontal changes in the dataset or graph. The abscissa is fundamental for the structural layout of graphs and charts.
When dealing with equations, the ordinate is used to find the value of the dependent variable once the abscissa is known. This relationship is pivotal in algebra and calculus, where plotting points and understanding their positions are key. The abscissa, meanwhile, is often given or chosen to explore how the dependent variable (ordinate) responds.
The ordinate and abscissa together define the precise location of a point in a Cartesian coordinate system. The ordinate focuses on vertical measurement, whereas the abscissa emphasizes horizontal measurement.

## Comparison Chart

### Definition

Y-coordinate, vertical position
X-coordinate, horizontal position

### Axis Representation

Represents position on y-axis
Represents position on x-axis

### Variable Type

Typically the dependent variable
Typically the independent variable

### Function Graphing

Indicates vertical displacement
Indicates horizontal displacement

### Role in Equations

Determines value based on abscissa
Often chosen to explore dependent variable

## Ordinate and Abscissa Definitions

#### Ordinate

Position on the y-axis
The ordinate indicates the vertical distance from the origin.

#### Abscissa

X-coordinate in a Cartesian system
The abscissa of the point (3, 5) is 3.

#### Ordinate

Vertical position of a point
In the graph, the ordinate shows how high or low the point is.

#### Abscissa

Position on the x-axis
The abscissa measures the horizontal distance from the origin.

#### Ordinate

Y-coordinate in a Cartesian system
The ordinate of the point (3, 5) is 5.

#### Abscissa

Independent variable value
The abscissa in the function y = 2x + 1 is the value we choose to find y.

#### Ordinate

Arranged in regular rows, as the spots on the wings of an insect.

#### Abscissa

Horizontal position of a point
The abscissa shows how far left or right the point is on the graph.

#### Ordinate

Symbol y The plane Cartesian coordinate representing the distance from a specified point to the x-axis, measured parallel to the y-axis.

#### Abscissa

Symbol xThe coordinate representing the position of a point along a line perpendicular to the y-axis in a plane Cartesian coordinate system.

#### Ordinate

(geometry) The second of the two terms by which a point is referred to, in a system of fixed rectilinear coordinate (Cartesian coordinate) axes.
The point $\left(3,2\right)$ has 3 as its abscissa and 2 as its ordinate.

#### Abscissa

(geometry) The first of the two terms by which a point is referred to, in a system of fixed rectilinear coordinate (Cartesian coordinate) axes.
The point $\left(3,2\right)$ has 3 as its abscissa and 2 as its ordinate.

#### Ordinate

(geometry) The vertical line representing an axis of a Cartesian coordinate system, on which the ordinate (sense above) is shown.

#### Abscissa

(geometry) The horizontal line representing an axis of a Cartesian coordinate system, on which the abscissa (sense above) is shown.

#### Ordinate

To ordain a priest, or consecrate a bishop

#### Abscissa

One of the elements of reference by which a point, as of a curve, is referred to a system of fixed rectilineal coördinate axes.

#### Ordinate

(transitive) to align a series of objects

#### Abscissa

The value of a coordinate on the horizontal axis

#### Ordinate

Arranged regularly in rows; orderly; disposed or arranged in an orderly or regular fashion.

#### Abscissa

Measure of horizontal displacement
The abscissa helps locate the point along the horizontal axis.

#### Ordinate

Well-ordered; orderly; regular; methodical.

#### Ordinate

The distance of any point in a curve or a straight line, measured on a line called the axis of ordinates or on a line parallel to it, from another line called the axis of abscissas, on which the corresponding abscissa of the point is measured.

#### Ordinate

To appoint, to regulate; to harmonize.

#### Ordinate

The value of a coordinate on the vertical axis

#### Ordinate

Appoint to a clerical posts;
He was ordained in the Church

#### Ordinate

Bring (components or parts) into proper or desirable coordination correlation;
Align the wheels of my car
Ordinate similar parts

#### Ordinate

Dependent variable value
The ordinate changes as the abscissa varies in the function y = 2x + 1.

#### Ordinate

Measure of vertical displacement
The ordinate helps determine the height of the point on the graph.

## FAQs

#### How do the ordinate and abscissa work together?

They define the precise location of a point in the Cartesian plane, with the ordinate giving the vertical position and the abscissa giving the horizontal position.

#### What is the abscissa?

The abscissa is the x-coordinate in a Cartesian coordinate system, indicating horizontal position.

#### Is the ordinate typically a dependent or independent variable?

The ordinate is typically a dependent variable.

#### What is the ordinate?

The ordinate is the y-coordinate in a Cartesian coordinate system, indicating vertical position.

#### Is the abscissa typically a dependent or independent variable?

The abscissa is typically an independent variable.

#### In the point (4, -2), what is the abscissa?

The abscissa is 4.

#### Can the ordinate be negative?

Yes, the ordinate can be negative, indicating a position below the origin on the y-axis.

#### Which axis does the ordinate relate to?

The ordinate relates to the y-axis.

#### Which axis does the abscissa relate to?

The abscissa relates to the x-axis.

#### How does the ordinate affect graph plotting?

The ordinate determines the vertical placement of points on a graph.

#### How does the abscissa affect graph plotting?

The abscissa determines the horizontal placement of points on a graph.

#### In the function y = 3x + 2, which is the abscissa?

In the function y = 3x + 2, x is the abscissa.

#### Can the abscissa be negative?

Yes, the abscissa can be negative, indicating a position to the left of the origin on the x-axis.

#### What role does the abscissa play in equations?

The abscissa is often given or chosen to determine how the dependent variable (ordinate) responds.

#### Why are ordinate and abscissa important in coordinate geometry?

They are essential for accurately defining and plotting points in a Cartesian plane, helping to visualize relationships between variables.

#### What does a high ordinate value indicate?

A high ordinate value indicates a point is far above the origin.

#### What does a high abscissa value indicate?

A high abscissa value indicates a point is far to the right of the origin.

#### In the point (4, -2), what is the ordinate?

The ordinate is -2.

#### What role does the ordinate play in equations?

The ordinate helps find the value of the dependent variable once the abscissa is known.

#### In the function y = 3x + 2, which is the ordinate?

In the function y = 3x + 2, y is the ordinate.