Definition of subtense in English:

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Pronunciation: /səbˈtens/


1A subtending line, especially the chord of an arc.
Example sentences
  • The controlled magnification optics as well as a compact design allow for a small subtense angle and increased efficiency.
  • The evanescent subtense of the angle of contact, in all curves which at the point of contact have a finite curvature, is ultimately in the duplicate ratio of the subtense of the conterminate arc.
  • What is the visual subtense of the spot?
1.1The angle subtended by a line at a point.
Example sentences
  • The average angular subtenses of Ricco's areas for the ten youngest and ten oldest observers were approximately 48 and 69 arc min, respectively.
  • However, when the angular subtense of the missile flare is greater than the angular subtense of the target, the target will be totally obscured by the flare when the missile is on the sightline.
  • The image has a larger angular subtense than the original object; therefore, the objects appear larger when seen through this optical system even though the virtual image is smaller than the object.


Early 17th century: from modern Latin subtensa (linea), feminine past participle of subtendere (see subtend).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sub·tense

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