What Is the Definition of "hypotenuse"?


Quick Answer

In geometry, the term "hypotenuse" refers to the side of a right triangle that is opposite the right angle, which is also the longest side. Geometric and trigonometric problems typically use the hypotenuse in the Pythagorean Theorem.

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Full Answer

Based on the Pythagorean Theorem, the hypotenuse can be defined as c = sqrt(a^2 + b^2), where c equals the length of the hypotenuse and a and b equal the lengths of the other two sides of a right triangle. The hypotenuse is also used in the trigonometric functions sine and cosine to find a ratio between the length of the hypotenuse and the length of one other side of the triangle. The word hypotenuse comes from a Latin term meaning "length under."

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