# tangent

[tan-juhnt]

### adjective

in immediate physical contact; touching.

Geometry.

- touching at a single point, as a tangent in relation to a curve or surface.
- in contact along a single line or element, as a plane with a cylinder.

### noun

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.

Trigonometry.

- (in a right triangle) the ratio of the side opposite a given angle to the side adjacent to the angle.
- 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
- (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.

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.

## Origin of tangent

1585–90; < Latin tangent- (stem of tangēns, present participle of tangere to touch) in phrase līnea tangēns touching line; see -ent

## Synonyms for tangent

1. meeting, abutting.

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

## Examples from the Web for tangent

### Contemporary Examples of tangent

### Historical Examples of tangent

His conversation when he does not fly off at a tangent is full of pith and idea.

The Stark Munro LettersJ. Stark Munro

But, look out, fellow strollers, for we are off in a tangent!

The mere thought of the hospital sent her mind flying off at a tangent.

QuinAlice Hegan Rice

There wasn't a half mile of tangent at a single stretch in the whole of it.

The complement of the logarithm of a sine, tangent, or secant.

The Sailor's Word-BookWilliam Henry Smyth

## tangent

### noun

### adjective

## Word Origin for tangent

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

## tangent

[tăn′jənt]

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

## tangent

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.