Definition of tangential in US English:



  • 1Relating to or along a tangent.

    ‘a tangential line’
    • ‘Thin-sections were made in the transverse, radial, and tangential planes.’
    • ‘Second, we have examined perturbations in a normal rather than a tangential direction along the limit cycle.’
    • ‘If a log were a perfect cylinder with uniformly thick growth layers, the figure on the surfaces of boards cut in tangential planes would be parallel markings.’
    • ‘So, if planes A and D are tangential, how can planes C and B be tangential?’
    • ‘A Riemann surface is typical of the case, where you have the intersection of one universe, with the tangential impact of another universe upon it - [that's a] typical Riemannian surface.’
    • ‘Alternatively, the struts may have the form of circles or ellipses which lie tangential to both the longitudinal profiles and to each other.’
    • ‘In this case we deal with the situation of a local tangential force applied to the surface of a large body.’
    • ‘His work used a special coordinate system on a surface such as isothermic and tangential coordinates.’
    • ‘In yet another construction, an annular cylinder block supports a pair of opposed weighted lever arms and sample support bushings in tangential contact with a rotor surface.’
    • ‘The skilled person in 1980 would understand that the effect of the frusto-conical cone is to reduce the diameter of the vortex and consequentially increase the tangential velocity of the particles as they pass down the cone?’
    • ‘If you are located near the very edge of the eclipse track the apparent disks of the Sun and the Moon glide along the same tangential line.’
    • ‘Formally then, utility is maximized at the point where the budget line is tangential to an indifference curve.’
    • ‘The surface of the cap of each fungiform structure is either tangential, or slightly inclined, to the surface of the carapace.’
    • ‘When we overlay Figure 4.2 onto Figure 4.1, we will see that the budget constraint will be tangential to some I-curves and cut across other I-curves.’
    1. 1.1 Diverging from a previous course or line; erratic.
      ‘tangential thoughts’
      • ‘I don't have any suggestions for places, but thought I'd offer some tangential information: there are all kinds of prenatal massages, so make sure you get all the info beforehand.’
      • ‘Barreto did a fair job of explaining the process of making this movie, but he often got sidetracked onto more tangential anecdotes.’
      • ‘Title aside, this is less a book with a single evolving argument than a series of tangential essays.’
      • ‘Still, the music, though admittedly provocative, almost always plays the role of sonic backdrop to her ridiculous tangential meditations, which ultimately sink the album.’
      • ‘He generally relates the story in chronological fashion, but, like many storytellers, he often stops to present tangential information about a new character or situation.’
      • ‘However, the literature from this domain is both too large and too tangential to consider in this article.’
      • ‘I want to emphasise that non-standard analysis was not a sudden tangential direction in which the researcher moved.’
      • ‘You've got to have a game in your head, you have to have a strategy and you have to know what the points are on the horizon because you get quickly buffeted to run off in tangential ways.’
      • ‘In Chinese, each different tangential reference to the topic presents the idea from a different indirect perspective; however, the topic is never presented directly in the text or in the conclusion.’
    2. 1.2 Hardly touching a matter; peripheral.
      ‘the reforms were tangential to efforts to maintain a basic standard of life’
      • ‘This leads to a misleading perception that the subject has a lot to do with PDEs, which – while important – are ultimately only a tangential element of the theory and its applications.’
      • ‘The report achieved this balance by transforming a supposedly tangential discussion of national reputation into its central focus.’
      • ‘These are all important matters but they are tangential to the most central objectives of school education, namely teaching and learning.’
      • ‘In fact, it's often the opposite: Speakers and participants regularly maintain that it's precisely because the event is so tangential to their daily lives that the event is so important to them.’
      • ‘Reducing pollution is tangential to the argument and simply serves to confuse the principles upon which debate should be based.’
      • ‘He makes the case for the artist as the most influential post-war musical artist, certainly more so than Elvis, who was influential for reasons tangential to the actual music.’
      • ‘If your Web site is only tangential to the success of your business, or if a core business activity is supported by it but not reliant on it, then ultimately the satisfaction of the end user is moot.’
      • ‘They are frankly tangential to the drama, and could have been cut from the story altogether without any great loss.’
      • ‘The focus of almost the entire chapter is on adolescent childbearing, a topic that I consider somewhat tangential to romance.’
      • ‘Despite a number of tangential references to the shady dealings of American corporations in the Balkans and their connections to organized crime, I have not yet seen a serious and comprehensive analysis of this interesting subject.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, his name is often most closely identified with these works that actually are only tangential to his primary concerns.’
      • ‘He continues to work as an environmental biologist - less tangential to his career as a writer than it might appear.’
      • ‘And in a way that seems to be very deeply connected with their central content, not just tangential contact, but into the heart of mathematics.’
      • ‘Though tangential to the main thesis, this book also serves as an excellent briefing for the general reader on the often uninspiring and sometimes off-putting technical language of the financial world.’
      • ‘The second exception comes into play if the rationale underlying the patent holder's argument bears only a tangential relation to the equivalent.’
      • ‘It is hard to believe that a theologian so bent on providing justification for preemptive armed conflict would find a theological account of violence tangential to the question of war.’
      • ‘This may seem tangential to design, but I would argue that the models we use to develop new technologies actually help constitute our experience of the social.’
      • ‘These innovations remain relatively tangential to the mainstream art museum, however.’
      • ‘This story is tangential to the subject I intended to approach, which is the true subject of my teenage crush.’
      • ‘However, the authors operate under some of the same constraints listed above by interpreting statistically weak treatments tangential to the context of demographic and population models.’
      secondary, subsidiary, incidental, marginal, minor, unimportant, lesser, inessential, non-essential, immaterial, superficial, ancillary, borderline
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