[tan-jen-shuh l]


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 tan·gen·tal [tan-jen-tl] /tænˈdʒɛn tl/.

Origin of tangential

First recorded in 1620–30; tangent + -ial
Related formstan·gen·ti·al·i·ty, nountan·gen·tial·ly, tan·gen·tal·ly, adverbnon·tan·gen·tal, adjectivenon·tan·gen·tial, adjectivenon·tan·gen·tial·ly, adverbun·tan·gen·tal, adjectiveun·tan·gen·tal·ly, adverbun·tan·gen·tial, adjectiveun·tan·gen·tial·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tangentially

Contemporary Examples of tangentially

  • At Davos, the issue is tangentially on the agenda, with sessions on youth unemployment.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Missing Agenda

    Joanne Lipman

    January 27, 2012

  • The internal language and logic of the markets is related to what is going on in the real world, but right now only tangentially.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Why Markets Are Melting

    Zachary Karabell

    August 9, 2011

Historical Examples of tangentially

British Dictionary definitions for tangentially



of, being, relating to, or in the direction of a tangent
Also: transverse astronomy (of velocity) in a direction perpendicular to the line of sight of a celestial objectCompare radial (def. 6)
of superficial relevance only; digressive
Derived Formstangentiality, nountangentially or 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

Word Origin and History for tangentially



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper