Tangent Meaning in Trigonometry

In trigonometry, the tangent of an angle is the ratio of the length of the opposite side to the length of the adjacent side.


The Tangent Formula is given as:

Tan A = Opposite Side/Adjacent side

In terms of sine and cosine, tangent may be represented as:

Tan A = Sin A / Cos A

We know that the sine of an angle is equal to the length of the opposite side divided by the length of the hypotenuse side whereas the cosine of the angle is the ratio of the length of the adjacent side to the ratio of the hypotenuse side.

That is, Sin A = Opposite Side/ Hypotenuse Side

Cos A = Adjacent Side/ Hypotenuse Side

\(\tan A=\frac{\frac{Opposite Side}{Hypotenuse Side}}{\frac{Adjacent Side}{Hypotenuse Side}}\)

Therefore,  tan A = Opposite Side/ Adjacent Side

In trigonometry, the tangent function is used to find the slope of a line between the origin and a point representing the intersection between the hypotenuse and the altitude of a right triangle.

Tangent in Geometry

In Geometry, the tangent is defined as a line touching circles or an ellipse at one point. The point “p” is called the point of tangency. In other words, it is defined as the line which represents the slope of a curve at that point. It is noted that the radius(centre o) to the point of tangency is always vertical or perpendicular to the tangent line AB

Tangent in Geometry

Here “AB” represents the tangent, and “p” represents the point of tangency and “o” is the centre of the circle.

The tangent equation in geometry can be found using the following procedures:

Since the gradient of the curve is equal to the gradient of the tangent to the curve at any point given on the curve. We can find the tangent equation as follows:

  • Find the derivative or gradient function using the differentiation rules.
  • To calculate the gradient of the tangent, substitute the x- coordinate of the given point in the derivative.
  • In the straight-line equation (in a slope-point formula), substitute the given coordinate point and the gradient of the tangent to find the tangent equation.

But in both trigonometry and geometry, tangent represents the slope of some object. Now let us have a look at the most important tangent angle – 30 degrees and its derivation.

How to Derive the Value of Tangent 30 Degrees?

According to the properties of right angle triangle when its angle equals to \(30^{\circ}\), the length of the hypotenuse is twice the length of the opposite side and the length of the adjacent side is \(\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2}\) times to the length of the hypotenuse side

That is,

Length of Hypotenuse = 2×Length of Opposite side

Length of Adjacent side= \(\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2}\) × Length of Hypotenuse

Length of Adjacent side= \(\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2}\) × (2×Length of Opposite side)

Length of Adjacent side= \((\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2}\times 2)\) ×Length of Opposite side

Length of Adjacent side=\(\sqrt{3}\) × Length of Opposite side

\(\frac{1}{\sqrt{3}}= \frac{Length of opposite side}{length of adjacent side}\)

Since the ratio is \(\tan 30^{\circ}\),

\(\tan 30^{\circ}=\frac{1}{\sqrt{3}}\)

Similarly, we can derive the values of other angles using the properties of right-angled triangle.

Tangent Applications in Science And Technology

Since Tangent is the function of both Sine and Cosine functions, it has a wide range of applications in science and technology. In the field of engineering and physics, trigonometric functions are used everywhere. It is expected to see sine, cos and tan functions in the description, whenever there is something in a circular shape or something that resembles round. Some of the concepts that use trigonometric functions are as follows:

  • Artificial Neural Networks
  • Empirical Formula and Heuristic functions
  • Visualisations (Example: Andrews Plot)
  • The behaviour of Elementary Particles
  • Study of waves like Sound waves, electromagnetic waves

Tangent Sample Problem


Find the tangent angle of a right triangle whose adjacent side is 5 cm and the opposite side is 7 cm?


Given, adjacent side = 5 cm

Opposite side = 7 cm

Formula to find tangent angle is, tan θ=Opposite Side/Adjacent Side

tan θ =7cm/5cm

tan θ= 1.4

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