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tangent

[tan-juh nt] /ˈtæn dʒənt/
adjective
1.
in immediate physical contact; touching.
2.
Geometry.
  1. touching at a single point, as a tangent in relation to a curve or surface.
  2. in contact along a single line or element, as a plane with a cylinder.
3.
tangential (def 3).
noun
4.
Geometry. a line or a plane that touches a curve or a surface at a point so that it is closer to the curve in the vicinity of the point than any other line or plane drawn through the point.
5.
Trigonometry.
  1. (in a right triangle) the ratio of the side opposite a given angle to the side adjacent to the angle.
  2. Also called tan. (of an angle) a trigonometric function equal to the ratio of the ordinate of the end point of the arc to the abscissa of this end point, the origin being at the center of the circle on which the arc lies and the initial point of the arc being on the x-axis.
    Abbreviation: tg, tgn.
  3. (originally) a straight line perpendicular to the radius of a circle at one end of an arc and extending from this point to the produced radius which cuts off the arc at its other end.
6.
the upright metal blade, fastened on the inner end of a clavichord key, that rises and strikes the string when the outer end of the key is depressed.
Idioms
7.
off on / at a tangent, digressing suddenly from one course of action or thought and turning to another:
The speaker flew off on a tangent.
Origin
1585-1590
1585-90; < Latin tangent- (stem of tangēns, present participle of tangere to touch) in phrase līnea tangēns touching line; see -ent
Related forms
quasi-tangent, adjective
Can be confused
Synonyms
1. meeting, abutting.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for tangent
  • Where the form seems to take an almost arbitrary tangent, to use that word, it really hasn't at all.
  • But that doesn't mean the cost of education isn't on a terrifying tangent.
  • Who knows, it might even spark a whole new tangent to said research or to some other field.
  • Drill a port on the edge and weld on a pipe tangent to the edge.
  • In one remarkable tangent, the camera fixes its gaze on a litter of pigs nursing in a barn.
  • In fact, it will fly off in a direction tangent to the circular motion.
  • Some people in my dept have that spiraling tangent-style that has too many points.
  • Going off on some tangent about mock space vehicles and busting someone on grammatical errors, is a big difference.
  • Draw a null line from your now which is tangent to all the skewed light cones on the other lines.
  • Killing's theorem gives the relationship between the tangent to a geodesic and a direction that generates a symmetry.
British Dictionary definitions for tangent

tangent

/ˈtændʒənt/
noun
1.
a geometric line, curve, plane, or curved surface that touches another curve or surface at one point but does not intersect it
2.
(of an angle) a trigonometric function that in a right-angled triangle is the ratio of the length of the opposite side to that of the adjacent side; the ratio of sine to cosine tan
3.
the straight part on a survey line between curves
4.
(music) a part of the action of a clavichord consisting of a small piece of metal that strikes the string to produce a note
5.
on a tangent, at a tangent, on a completely different or divergent course, esp of thought to go off at a tangent
adjective
6.
  1. of or involving a tangent
  2. touching at a single point
7.
touching
8.
almost irrelevant
Derived Forms
tangency, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin phrase līnea tangēns the touching line, from tangere to touch
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tangent
tangent
1590s, "meeting at a point without intersecting," from L. tangentem (nom. tangens), prp. of tangere "to touch," from PIE base *tag- "to touch, to handle" (cf. L. tactus "touch," Gk. tetagon "having seized," O.E. þaccian "stroke, strike gently"). First used by Dan. mathematician Thomas Fincke in "Geomietria Rotundi" (1583). The noun also is attested from 1590s; extended sense of "slightly connected with a subject" is first recorded 1825.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tangent in Science
tangent
  (tān'jənt)   
  1. A line, curve, or surface touching but not intersecting another.

  2. The ratio of the length of the side opposite an acute angle in a right triangle to the side adjacent to the angle. The tangent of an angle is equal to the sine of the angle divided by the cosine of the angle.

  3. The ratio of the ordinate to 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 tangent of an angle whose measure in radians is equal to x.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with tangent
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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