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**tangent**(n = noun.shape) - a straight line or plane that touches a curve or curved surface at a point but does not intersect it at that point;
is a kind of
straight line
**tangent**(n = noun.linkdef) tan - ratio of the opposite to the adjacent side of a right-angled triangle;
is a kind of
circular function,
trigonometric function

Derived forms noun tangency

Derived form adjective tangential

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. [*1913 Webster*]

Touching; touching at a single point [*1913 Webster*]

--n.

1 a straight line, curve, or surface that meets another curve or curved surface at a point, but if extended does not intersect it at that point.

2 the ratio of the sides opposite and adjacent to an angle in a right-angled triangle.

--adj.

1 (of a line or surface) that is a tangent.

2 touching.

Idiom

at a tangent diverging from a previous course of action or thought etc. (go off at a tangent). tangent galvanometer a galvanometer with a coil through which the current to be measured is passed, its strength being proportional to the tangent of the angle of deflection.

Derivative

tangency n.

Etymology

L tangere tangent- touch