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1a straight line or plane that touches a curve or curved surface at a point, but if extended does not cross it at that point. 2a completely different line of thought or action:he quickly went off on a tangent about wrestling
3 Mathematics the trigonometric function that is equal to the ratio of the sides (other than the hypotenuse) opposite and adjacent to an angle in a right triangle.
(of a line or plane) touching, but not intersecting, a curve or curved surface.