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## Definition of *tangent*

(Entry 1 of 2)

1

**:**an abrupt change of course**:**digression the speaker went off on a tangent2a

**:**the trigonometric function that for an acute angle is the ratio between the leg opposite to the angle when it is considered part of a right triangle and the leg adjacentb

**:**a trigonometric function that is equal to the sine divided by the cosine for all real numbers θ for which the cosine is not equal to zero and is exactly equal to the tangent of an angle of measure θ in radians3

**:**a line that is tangent specifically**:**a straight line that is the limiting position of a secant of a curve through a fixed point and a variable point on the curve as the variable point approaches the fixed point4

**:**a small upright flat-ended metal pin at the inner end of a clavichord key that strikes the string to produce the tonetangent

adjectiveDefinition of *tangent* (Entry 2 of 2)

1a

**:**meeting a curve or surface in a single point if a sufficiently small interval is considered straight line tangent to a curveb(1)

**:**having a common tangent line at a point tangent curves(2)

**:**having a common tangent plane at a point tangent surfaces2

**:**diverging from an original purpose or course**:**irrelevant tangent remarksKeep scrolling for more

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tangentTime Traveler for

tangent## The first known use of

tangentwas in 1594See more words from the same year