Tangent here specifically means a line segment which is tangential to a point P on a curve and which intersects the x-axis at point Q. The line segment PQ is the tangent, and the length of PQ is also called the "tangent".
Draw a line through P parallel to the axis of ordinates (a.k.a. y-axis). This line intersects the x-axis at P' . Then line P'Q is the "subtangent", and its length is also called the subtangent.
Let θ be the angle of inclination of the tangent with respect to the x-axis. Let the curve be described by y=f(x), let x0 be the abscissa of point P, and let θ0 be the angle of inclination of the tangent of P. Then this tangent of P is
In polar coordinates, the tangent to a curve can be specifically defined as a line segment, tangential to the curve, which extends from the given point P on the curve to a point T, such that line TO is perpendicular to line OP, where O is the origin. Then "tangent" specifically also means the length of PT, and the subtangent is the line TO, or -- interchangeably -- the length of line TO.
The subtangent can be found to be