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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Tangential'

Tangential Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    tangential adj
  1. of superficial relevance if any; "a digressive allusion to the day of the week"; "a tangential remark" [syn: digressive]
  2. of or relating to or acting along or in the direction of a tangent; "tangential forces"
Tangential Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Tangential \Tan*gen"tial\, a. (Geom.) Of or pertaining to a tangent; in the direction of a tangent. Tangential force (Mech.), a force which acts on a moving body in the direction of a tangent to the path of the body, its effect being to increase or diminish the velocity; -- distinguished from a normal force, which acts at right angles to the tangent and changes the direction of the motion without changing the velocity. Tangential stress. (Engin.) See Shear, n., 3.
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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Tangential'

In geometry, the tangent line (or simply the tangent) to a curve at a given point is the straight line that "just touches" the curve at that point (in the sense explained more precisely below). As it passes through the point where the tangent line and the curve meet, or the point of tangency, the tangent line is "going in the same direction" as the curve, and in this sense it is the best straight-line approximation to the curve at that point. The same definition applies to space curves and curves in n-dimensional Euclidean space.

Similarly, the tangent plane to a surface at a given point is the plane that "just touches" the surface at that point. The concept of a tangent is one of the most fundamental notions in differential geometry and has been extensively generalized; see Tangent space.

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