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Posted by Smokey Stover on March 20, 2004

In Reply to: Tangent posted by Bruce Kahl on March 19, 2004

: : What does it mean to "Go off on a Tangent" or "Wild Tangent"? Please help.

: When people are having a discussion and one is said "to go off on a tangent" it means that that person has deviated or diverged from the original purpose of the discussion.
: It is mathematical in origin.

The line that touches the straight one (in the diagram) but curves away after just touching it is called a "tangent" from the Latin "tangere," to touch. Christ said "Noli me tangere" (in the Vulgate), meaning "Don't touch me." Among the words derived from "tangere" is contingent. SS