to go off on a tangent

Idiom Definition

Idiom Definition - go off on a tangent

"to go off on a tangent"

to start talking or thinking or doing something unrelated to the current situation


Related words and phrases:

Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - go off on a tangent

Two colleagues are talking ...

Colleague 1:  Did you understand what the boss was talking about this morning?

Colleague 2:  I thought he had been talking about a new marketing plan until he went off on a tangent and started talking about the accounting system and then the bonus structure.

Colleague 1:  So how do we interpret what we should be doing?

Colleague 2:  I think we need to wait for clearer instructions.

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - go off on a tangent

Two students are talking ...

Student 1:  Where have you been? You were supposed to have gone for a quick trip to the library for a couple of books.

Student 2:  I ran into Joe and he suggested we go and have a quick beer. Then at the bar, Susan invited me for pizza and ...

Student 1:  How do you ever expect to do well in school if you are going off on tangents all the time?

to go off on a tangent - Usage:


Usage Frequency Index:   256   click for frequency by country

to go off on a tangent - Gerund Form:

Going off on a tangent made the point he was trying to make difficult to understand.

to go off on a tangent - Examples:

1)  Because you got befuddled, we all have to go off on a tangent.

2)  ... often lose track of what is being said and they'll go off on a tangent with a little anecdote which often ends with loud laughter.

3)  You're very rational. When I go off on a tangent, you bring me back to reality. 

4)  He apologised for going off on a tangent if some new idea struck him, ...

5)  Some days we'd wind up going off on a tangent and doing stupid stuff that wasn't in the original adventure.

6)  ... he said what he thought about unequal pay before going off on a tangent about women's biology.

7)  ... then proceed to bore us all with irrelevant information. Stop going off on a tangent, and deal with the issue at hand.

8)  ... by telling mourners about his last visit to Mandoza but then went off on a tangent singing his own praises.

9)  But I got distracted and went off on a tangent instead.

10)  ... did not answer her question. He went off on a tangent about health care, which isn't addressing the ...

11)  Even for a diary, a form generically disposed to go off on tangents and leave stories unfinished, it feels unforthcoming.

12)  Because of his tendency to go off on tangents, it was hard to determine what was factual about his life.

13)  Linearity gradually gave way to circular thinking; he would go off on tangents, spiralling ever further away from what he was trying to say

14)  He's prone to go off on tangents, as in his random disquisition on saucy seaside postcards, ...

15)  While testifying the defendant often was evasive, choosing to go off on tangents or be critical of others rather than providing direct answers.

16)  I worried I would get distracted and go off on tangents. I worried that I would mess up the timing.

17)  ... and pointless stories get told, they go off on tangents, and every now and then they realize that they just forgot where they were ...

18)  The discussions, interspersed with anecdotes from past and present, often go off on tangents and touch upon broader topics.

19)  Funny enough, but I was researching for a talk and often go off on tangents that don't help me getting my talk accomplished.

20)  We never go off on tangents or stray from the story.