One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A curve whose tangents all intercept the x-axis at the same distance from the point of contact, being the involute of a catenary.
- ‘Among the properties of the tractrix are the fact that the length of a tangent from its point of contact to an asymptote is constant.’
- 1.1 One of a class of curves similarly traced by one end of a rigid rod, whose other end moves along a fixed line or curve.
- ‘The model was obtained on the surface of revolution of a tractrix about its asymptote.’
- ‘The tractrix is sometimes called a tractory or equitangential curve.’
- ‘The concrete realisation uses the pseudosphere, a surface generated by the revolution of a tractrix about its asymptote.’
Early 18th century: modern Latin, feminine of late Latin tractor ‘that which pulls’ (see tractor).
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