se·cant (sekant′, -kənt)
n. Abbr. sec
a. A straight line intersecting a curve at two or more points.
b. The straight line drawn from the center through one end of a circular arc and intersecting the tangent to the other end of the arc.
c. The ratio of the length of this line to the length of the radius of the circle.
2. The reciprocal of the cosine of an angle in a right triangle.
[FromLatinsecāns, secant-, present participle ofsecāre, to cut; see sek- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)secant
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.