tangent +‎ -ial.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /tænˈdʒɛn.tʃəl/
  • (US) IPA(key): /tænˈdʒɛnt.ʃəl/, /tænˈdʒɛn.ʃəl/
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tangential (comparative more tangential, superlative most tangential)

  1. Referring to a tangent, moving at a tangent to something.
    • 2002, Edward Teller, Memoirs: A Twentieth Century Journey in Science and Politics, page 560:
      The meteor came in on a tangential orbit and exploded about 8 or 10 miles above the earth's surface, just south of the Arctic Circle.
    • 2012 March 1, Henry Petroski, “Opening Doors”, in American Scientist[1], volume 100, number 2, page 112-3:
      A doorknob of whatever roundish shape is effectively a continuum of levers, with the axis of the latching mechanism—known as the spindle—being the fulcrum about which the turning takes place. Applying a force tangential to the knob is essentially equivalent to applying one perpendicular to a radial line defining the lever.
  2. Merely touching, positioned as a tangent.
    • 1898, Gary Nathan Calkins, Mitosis in Noctiluca miliaris and its bearing on the nuclear relations of the Protozoa and Metazoa, Ph.D. Thesis, page 3
      The archoplasm divides and forms a very large spindle which first lies tangential to the surface of the nucleus.
  3. Only indirectly related.
    That subject is tangential to our discussion, and we cannot let it distract us.

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