One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In Cartesian coordinates: the part of the x-axis lying between the two points where it is cut by the tangent at a given point on a curve and by the perpendicular drawn from that point to the x-axis.
Early 18th century; earliest use found in John Harris (c1666–1719), writer and lecturer on science. From post-classical Latin subtangent-, subtangens from sub- + tangens.
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