[see-kant, -kuhnt]
Geometry. an intersecting line, especially one intersecting a curve at two or more points.
(in a right triangle) the ratio of the hypotenuse to the side adjacent to a given angle.
(originally) a line from the center of a circle through one extremity of an arc to the tangent from the other extremity.
the ratio of the length of this line to that of the radius of the circle; the reciprocal of the cosine of a given angle or arc. Abbreviation: sec
cutting or intersecting, as one line or surface in relation to another.

1585–95; < Latin secant- (stem of secāns, present participle of secāre to cut), equivalent to sec- verb stem (see saw1) + -ant- -ant

secantly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
secant (ˈsiːkənt)
1.  sec (of an angle) a trigonometric function that in a right-angled triangle is the ratio of the length of the hypotenuse to that of the adjacent side; the reciprocal of cosine
2.  a line that intersects a curve
[C16: from Latin secāre to cut]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1593, from L. secantem (nom. secans) "cutting," prp. of secare "to cut" (see section). First used by Dan. mathematician Thomas Fincke in Geometria Rotundi (1583).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
secant   (sē'kānt')  Pronunciation Key 
  1. A straight line or ray that intersects a curve, especially a circle, at two or more points.

  2. The ratio of the length of the hypotenuse in a right triangle to the side adjacent to an acute angle. The secant is the inverse of the cosine.

  3. The reciprocal of the abscissa of the endpoint of an arc of a unit circle centered at the origin of a Cartesian coordinate system, the arc being of length x and measured counterclockwise from the point (1, 0) if x is positive or clockwise if x is negative.

  4. A function of a number x, equal to the secant of an angle whose measure in radians is equal to x.

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Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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