American English

Definition of tangent noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1(geometry) a straight line that touches the outside of a curve but does not cross it
  2. 2(abbreviation tan) (mathematics) the ratio of the length of the side opposite an angle in a right triangle to the length of the side next to it compare cosine, sine
  3. Idioms
    go off on a tangent (informal)
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    to suddenly start saying or doing something that does not seem to be connected to what has gone before He never sticks to the point but keeps going off on a tangent.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: tangent