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A straight line tangent to a curve
Tangent function of unit circle



From Latin tangentem, the accusative of tangēns ‎(touching) (in the phrase līnea tangēns ‎(a touching line)), the present participle of the verb tangō ‎(touch, verb), from Proto-Indo-European *tag-, *taǵ- ‎(to touch). Cognate with Old English þaccian ‎(to touch lightly, pat, stroke). More at thack, thwack.


tangent ‎(plural tangents)

  1. (geometry) A straight line touching a curve at a single point without crossing it there.
  2. (trigonometry) 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
  3. 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.
    • 1928, Lawrence R. Bourne, chapter 1, Well Tackled![1]:
      “Uncle Barnaby was always father and mother to me,” Benson broke in; then after a pause his mind flew off at a tangent. “Is old Hannah all right—in the will, I mean?”
    • 2009: Stuart Heritage, Hecklerspray, Friday the 22nd of May in 2009 at 1 o’clock p.m., “Jon & Kate Latest: People You Don’t Know Do Crap You Don’t Care About
      Jon & Kate Plus 8 is a show based on two facts: (1) Jon and Kate Gosselin have eight children, and (2) the word ‘Kate’ rhymes with the word ‘eight’. One suspects that if Kate were ever to have another child, a shady network executive would urge her to put it in a binbag with a brick and drop it down a well. But this is just a horrifying tangent.
  4. A small metal blade by which a clavichord produces sound.

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tangent ‎(not comparable)

  1. (geometry) Touching a curve at a single point but not crossing it at that point.
  2. Of a topic, only loosely related to a main topic.

See also[edit]



tangent m ‎(feminine singular tangente, masculine plural tangents, feminine plural tangentes)

  1. (mathematics) tangential
  2. borderline

External links[edit]




  1. third-person plural future active indicative of tangō


Swedish Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia sv


tangent c

  1. a key (button on a typewriter, computer keyboard or piano)
  2. (mathematics) a tangent


Inflection of tangent
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative tangent tangenten tangenter tangenterna
Genitive tangents tangentens tangenters tangenternas

Related terms[edit]