tangent(redirected from tangents)
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Related to tangents: trigonometry, Law of tangents
off at a tangent
On a course of discussion that is irrelevant or divergent from the topic at hand. Primarily heard in UK. If we keep going off at a tangent, we'll never get through this meeting. It's impossible to get through a conversation with my mother because she's always going off at a tangent.
1. Lit. [for an explosive device] to explode. The fireworks all went off as scheduled. The bomb went off and did a lot of damage.
2. Lit. [for a sound-creating device] to make its noise. The alarm went off at six o'clock. The siren goes off at noon every day.
3. Fig. [for an event] to happen or take place. The party went off as planned. Did your medical examination go off as well as you had hoped?
(by oneself) to go into seclusion; to isolate oneself. She went off by herself where no one could find her. I have to go off and think about this.
(into something) to go away to something; to depart and go into something. He went off into the army. Do you expect me just to go off into the world and make a living?
go off on a tangent
Fig. to pursue a somewhat related or irrelevant course while neglecting the main subject. Don't go off on a tangent. Stick to your job. Just as we started talking, Henry went off on a tangent about the high cost of living.
go off (with someone)
to go away with someone. Tom just now went off with Maggie. I think that Maria went off with Fred somewhere.
1. to explode or fire bullets We left the building just before the bomb went off. Fireworks were going off, signaling the end of the race. The gun went off near a whole bunch of kids.
2. to start to ring loudly or make a loud noise The alarm started going off in the middle of the night for no reason.
(off) on a tangent
suddenly dealing with a completely different matter We were talking about gas prices and you went off on a tangent about your vacation plans.
go off on a tangent(British, American & Australian) also go off at a tangent (British)
to suddenly start talking about a different subject We were talking about property prices and you went off on a tangent.
1. Explode, detonate; also, make noise, sound, especially abruptly. For example, I heard the gun go off, or The sirens went off at noon. This expression developed in the late 1500s and gave rise about 1700 to the related go off half-cocked, now meaning "to act prematurely" but originally referring to the slipping of a gun's hammer so that the gun fires (goes off) unexpectedly.
2. Leave, depart, especially suddenly, as in Don't go off mad, or They went off without saying goodbye. [c. 1600]
3. Keep to the expected plan or course of events, succeed, as in The project went off smoothly. [Second half of 1700s]
4. Deteriorate in quality, as in This milk seems to have gone off. [Late 1600s]
5. Die. Shakespeare used this sense in Macbeth (5:9): "I would the friends we missed were safely arrived.-Some must go off."
6. Experience orgasm. D.H. Lawrence used this slangy sense in Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928): "You couldn't go off at the same time...." This usage is probably rare today. Also see get off, def. 8.
7. go off on a tangent. See under on a tangent.
8. go off one's head. See off one's head. Also see subsequent idioms beginning with go off.
on a tangent
On a sudden digression or change of course, as in The professor's hard to follow; he's always off on a tangent. This phrase often occurs in the idioms fly off or go off on a tangent , as in The witness was convincing until he went off on a tangent. This expression alludes to the geometric tangent-a line or curve that touches but does not intersect with another line or curve. [Second half of 1700s]
1. To go away: The children all went off to play at the park. Don't go off mad—let me explain!
2. To stop functioning. Used especially of electrical devices: The lights went off suddenly, and the performance began right away.
3. To occur, or be perceived as having occurred, in some particular manner: I think our party went off very well!
4. To adhere to the expected course of events or the expected plan: The project went off smoothly.
5. To stop taking some drug or medication: She went off painkillers a few weeks after the operation.
6. To make a noise; sound: The siren goes off every day at noon.
7. To undergo detonation; explode: If you push this red button, the bomb will go off.
8. go off on To begin to talk extensively about something: He went off on a series of excuses for his bad behavior.
9. go off on To berate someone directly and loudly: My boss really went off on me when she learned that I had forgotten to make the phone call.