9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[tan-jen-shuh l] /tænˈdʒɛn ʃəl/
pertaining to or of the nature of a tangent; being or moving in the direction of a tangent.
merely touching; slightly connected:
tangential information.
divergent or digressive, as from a subject under consideration:
tangential remarks.
tending to digress or to reply to questions obliquely.
Also, tangental
[tan-jen-tl] /tænˈdʒɛn tl/ (Show IPA)
Origin of tangential
1620-30; tangent + -ial
Related forms
tangentiality, noun
tangentially, tangentally, adverb
nontangental, adjective
nontangential, adjective
nontangentially, adverb
untangental, adjective
untangentally, adverb
untangential, adjective
untangentially, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tangential
  • Warm air at ground level enters via tangential inlets around the base of the wall.
  • For an infinitesimally thin surface element, stresses are tangential as radial stresses go to zero on the surface.
  • At this point there are many offshoot discussions and tangential topics being discussed on the skeptical blogs and elsewhere.
  • The framing of arguments around tangential concepts really muddies these comments.
  • Indeed, several of the miniature portraits here are occasions for tangential reflections.
  • But they tend to view them as insufficient or tangential to the real problem.
  • It is a quite different state, a state that bears only a tangential resemblance to normal emotion.
  • The topics discussed here seem tangential to being president.
  • Radial, axial, and tangential vibration measurements were taken for this compressor.
British Dictionary definitions for tangential


of, being, relating to, or in the direction of a tangent
(astronomy) Also transverse. (of velocity) in a direction perpendicular to the line of sight of a celestial object Compare radial (sense 6)
of superficial relevance only; digressive
Derived Forms
tangentiality, noun
tangentially, tangentally, adverb
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 tangential

1620s, see tangent; figurative sense of "divergent, erratic" is from 1787. Related: Tangentially.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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