tangential

adjective tan·gen·tial \ tan-ˈjen(t)-shəl \
Updated on: 21 Nov 2017

Definition of tangential

1 a : touching lightly : incidental, peripheral
  • tangential involvement
; also : of little relevance
  • arguments tangential to the main point
2 : of, relating to, or of the nature of a tangent
3 : acting along or lying in a tangent
  • tangential forces

tangentially

play \-ˈjen(t)-sh(ə-)lē\ adverb

Examples of tangential in a Sentence

  1. Their romance is tangential to the book's main plot.

Recent Examples of tangential from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tangential.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

tangential Has Mathematical Roots

In geometry, a tangent is a straight line that touches a curve at a single point. So we say that someone who starts talking about one thing and gets sidetracked has gone off on a tangent. The new subject is tangential to the first subject—it touches it and moves off in a different direction.

First Known Use of tangential

1630

Other Mathematics and Statistics Terms


TANGENTIAL Defined for English Language Learners

tangential

adjective

Definition of tangential for English Language Learners

  • : slightly or indirectly related to something : not closely connected to something

  • geometry : relating to a tangent : in or along a tangent



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