off at a tangent

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.
See also: off, tangent
References in classic literature ?
Then I tossed him a Yorker which he missed and it went off at a tangent as soon as it had reached the tree.
But the reason why he wants sometimes to go off at a tangent may just be that he is predestined to make the road, and perhaps, too, that however stupid the "direct" practical man may be, the thought sometimes will occur to him that the road almost always does lead somewhere, and that the destination it leads to is less important than the process of making it, and that the chief thing is to save the well-conducted child from despising engineering, and so giving way to the fatal idleness, which, as we all know, is the mother of all the vices.
The pony ran off at a sharp angle to inspect a lamp-post on the opposite side of the way, and then went off at a tangent to another lamp-post on the other side.
The creatures are always going off at a tangent into some fantastic employment, or ridiculous speculation, entirely at variance with the "fitness of things," and having no business whatever to be considered as a business at all.
The vessel seemed to go off at a tangent to its former course and leapt almost instantly from view into the fog.
His flying off at a tangent was indisputably natural.
and the devil, dropping at once the sanctity of his demeanor, opened to its fullest extent a mouth from ear to ear, so as to display a set of jagged and fang-like teeth, and, throwing back his head, laughed long, loudly, wickedly, and uproariously, while the black dog, crouching down upon his haunches, joined lustily in the chorus, and the tabby cat, flying off at a tangent, stood up on end, and shrieked in the farthest corner of the apartment.