from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of, relating to, or moving along or in the direction of a tangent.
  • adj. Merely touching or slightly connected.
  • adj. Only superficially relevant; divergent: a tangential remark.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Referring to a tangent, moving at a tangent to something.
  • adj. Merely touching, positioned as a tangent.
  • adj. Only indirectly related.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to a tangent; in the direction of a tangent.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In geology, specifically applied to strains in the earth's crust which are applied in a direction tangential to its surface.
  • Of or pertaining to a tangent; being or moving in the direction of a tangent.
  • Figuratively, slightly connected; touch-and-go.
  • n. In the geom. of plane cubic curves, the point at which the tangent from any point cuts the curve again. The point of intersection is called the tangential or the point of tangency.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. of or relating to or acting along or in the direction of a tangent
  • adj. of superficial relevance if any


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • FRUEHLING -- Did you ever consider the problem of what I call tangential advertising?

    The Haunted Bookshop

  • They are here to bog us all down in tangential discussions that are (mostly) irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    Think Progress » Malkin On Detainee Suicides: ‘Boo-Freakin-Hoo’

  • Unfortunately, Reiss gets bogged down in tangential details while trying to place Nussimbaum in early 20th-century context, but this is still an important work that sheds light on the pre-Zionist phenomenon of Jewish Orientalism that led many Jews to embrace Muslim culture.

    The Orientalist: Summary and book reviews of The Orientalist by Tom Reiss.

  • While we’re off in tangential theoretical metaphysical land, the universal wavefunction interpretation (more often called, misleadingly, the “many worlds” interpretation) of quantum mechanics allows both for objective probability distributions and for determinism.

    Matthew Yglesias » The Bitter Fruits of a Finance-Oriented Economy

  • Her first appointment of the day had been with a shrivelledlooking man called Mr Taylor, who explained at great length and with much historical detail - a great deal of which seemed somewhat tangential, which is saying something when you're working in a legal context - that he wished to sue the council because it had taken them three years to mend a broken gutter-pipe around the roof of his house.

    Country of the Blind

  • Light rays lying in the tangential and sagittal planes are refracted differently and both sets of rays intersect the chief ray at different image points, termed the tangential line image (tangential focal plane) and the sagittal line image (sagittal focal plane; see Figure 2).


  • MR: The lyrics are kind of tangential, I think you can interpret a couple of things in that one.

    Mike Ragogna: That "St. Judy's Comet" Kid: A Dinner Conversation With Harper Simon

  • George Fletcher's leading book on law and loyalty sets contract-based loyalties aside as "tangential" to the core meaning of loyalty.


  • He felt a kind of tangential dislocation of time or space, and he had the eerie sensation that the two of them had somehow become locked in tandem, one engine, its power increasing geometrically, and he was immediately uneasy.

    Black Blade

  • FRUEHLING -- There's another kind of tangential advertising that interests me.

    The Haunted Bookshop


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