Definitions for tangentˈtæn dʒənt

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word tangent

Random House Webster's College Dictionary

tan•gentˈtæn dʒənt(n.)

  1. a line or plane that touches but does not intersect a curve or surface at a point so that it is closer to the curve or surface in the vicinity of the point than any other line or plane drawn through the point.

    Category: Math

  2. a fundamental trigonometric function that, in a right triangle, is expressed as the ratio of the side opposite an acute angle to the side adjacent to that angle.

    Category: Math

    Ref: Also called tan 1 2 .

  3. (adj.)in immediate physical contact; touching; abutting.

  4. 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.

    Category: Math

  5. Category: Common Vocabulary

    Ref: tangential (def. 3). 3

Idioms for tangent:

  1. off on or at a tangent,digressing suddenly from one course of action or thought and turning to another.

    Category: Idiom

Origin of tangent:

1585–90; < L tangent-, s. of tangēns, in phrase līnea tangēns touching line; see -ent

tan′gen•cy-dʒən si(n.)

Princeton's WordNet

  1. tangent(noun)

    a straight line or plane that touches a curve or curved surface at a point but does not intersect it at that point

  2. tangent, tan(noun)

    ratio of the opposite to the adjacent side of a right-angled triangle

Kernerman English Learner's Dictionary

  1. tangent(noun)ˈtæn dʒənt

    a straight line that meets a curved line without going through it

  2. tangentˈtæn dʒənt

    to start talking about sth that is not connected with the main topic

    Sorry, I went off on a tangent.


  1. tangent(Noun)

    A straight line touching a curve at a single point without crossing it there.

    I believe we went off onto a tangent when we started talking about monkeys on unicycles at his retirement party.

  2. tangent(Noun)

    A topic nearly unrelated to the main topic, but having a point in common with it.

    I believe we went off onto a tangent when we started talking about monkeys on unicycles at his retirement party.

  3. tangent(Noun)

    A small metal blade by which a clavichord produces sound.

  4. tangent(Noun)

    In a right triangle, the ratio of the length of the side opposite the angle to the length of the side adjacent to the angle. Symbols: tan, tg

  5. tangent(Adjective)

    Touching a curve at a single point but not crossing it at that point.

  6. tangent(Adjective)

    Of a topic, only loosely related to a main topic.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Tangent(verb)

    a tangent line curve, or surface; specifically, that portion of the straight line tangent to a curve that is between the point of tangency and a given line, the given line being, for example, the axis of abscissas, or a radius of a circle produced. See Trigonometrical function, under Function

  2. Tangent(adj)

    touching; touching at a single point

  3. Tangent(adj)

    meeting a curve or surface at a point and having at that point the same direction as the curve or surface; -- said of a straight line, curve, or surface; as, a line tangent to a curve; a curve tangent to a surface; tangent surfaces


  1. Tangent

    In geometry, the tangent line to a plane curve at a given point is the straight line that "just touches" the curve at that point. Informally, it is a line through a pair of infinitely close points on the curve. More precisely, a straight line is said to be a tangent of a curve y = f(x) at a point x = c on the curve if the line passes through the point on the curve and has slope f' where f' is the derivative of f. A similar definition applies to space curves and curves in n-dimensional Euclidean space. As it passes through the point where the tangent line and the curve meet, called the point of tangency, the tangent line is "going in the same direction" as the curve, and is thus the best straight-line approximation to the curve at that point. Similarly, the tangent plane to a surface at a given point is the plane that "just touches" the surface at that point. The concept of a tangent is one of the most fundamental notions in differential geometry and has been extensively generalized; see Tangent space. The word tangent comes from the Latin tangere, to touch.

Translations for tangent

Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary


a line that touches a curve but does not cut it.

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