English

Definition of tangent noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

     

    tangent

     noun
    noun
    BrE BrE//ˈtændʒənt//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈtændʒənt//
     
    Mathematical terminology
     
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  1. 1(geometry) a straight line that touches the outside of a curve but does not cross it The cart track branches off at a tangent. See related entries: Mathematical terminology
  2. 2(abbreviation tan) (mathematics) the ratio of the length of the side opposite an angle in a right-angled triangle to the length of the side next to it compare cosine, sine See related entries: Mathematical terminology
  3. Word Origin late 16th cent. (in sense (2) and as an adjective): from Latin tangent- ‘touching’, from the verb tangere.Idioms
    fly/go off at a tangent (British English) (North American English go off on a tangent)
     
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    (informal) 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 at a tangent. Laura’s mind went off at a tangent.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: tangent

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