phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at


Posted by Smokey Stover on March 20, 2004

In Reply to: Spider posted by Bruce Kahl on March 20, 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 La**n "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

: : : Yes, the word tangential has numerous cousins: tax, contact, attain, intact, tact, taste, tangible, tactile. What's common in all is the idea of touching (or not, as in case of "intact").

: : : (I had to edit out the "t" and "i" above as Google spiders this URL frequently and people start asking for translations which clogs things up)

: : Sometimes I just cannot think of the word I want, and that was the case of the past participle of tangere. As soon as my post was submitted it came back to me. Thanks for naming some of the numerous derivatives of tangere. But you have used a locution totally unfamiliar which looks as though it must be useful. What does it mean to "spider" a URL? Thanks in advance. SS

: A spider is a program that searches the World Wide Web automatically by retrieving a document and all documents linked to it.

: As a spider crawls around on the forest floor, a tech "spider" crawls all over the web looking for a preset or programmed target.

: Google has set its spider to look at the Phrasefinder board and check for changes. If it finds any, the changes are "phoned home" and put in the Google database.

: What happened in the past was I and a few others started translating from English to Latin various trinkets of words for visitors. So when people searched the web via Google with a search term such as "english to latin" the Phrasfinder's URL was displayed and we got blasted with requests for translations.

Thanks, and wow! I have always thought that to be an educated man I would have to know either La**in or Greek fluently, but I never achieved that. So you can imagine how impressed I am to hear from an actual educated man. No kidding! SS