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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 ]


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  • Onbeat

    /ˈɒnˌbiːt/ noun 1. (music) the first and third beats in a bar of four-four time

  • On bended knee

    Humbly, pleading, as in They’re desperate for funds; they’re asking for contributions on bended knee. This expression alludes to a traditional attitude of supplication. Bended, the past tense of bend, survives only in this idiom, elsewhere having been replaced by bent. [ Mid-1600s ]

  • Onboard

    [on-bawrd, -bohrd, awn-] /ˈɒnˈbɔrd, -ˈboʊrd, ˈɔn-/ adjective 1. provided, occurring, etc., on a vehicle: among the ship’s many on-board services. 2. installed and functional within a vehicle: on-board computers for aircraft. adjective See on-board adjective ready and willing to participate; also written onboard adj. 1966 as one word, from on + board (n.2).

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