Reciprocal Identities in Trigonometry

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What Are Trigonometric Reciprocal Identities? Introduction

The six trigonometric ratios are sine, cosine, tangent, cotangent, secant, cosecant, out of which the three standard trigonometric ratios are sine, cosine, and tangent. The six trigonometric ratios can be grouped in pairs as reciprocals. The reciprocal identities are the reciprocals of these six trigonometric ratios. Note that reciprocal identities are not the same as inverse trigonometric functions.

Reciprocal identities are the reciprocals of the six fundamental trigonometric functions (sine, cosine, tangent, secant, cosecant, and cotangent). 

We know that the reciprocal of a fraction $\frac{a}{b}$ is given by $\frac{b}{a}$. It is obtained by interchanging the values of numerator and denominator. Similarly, we can find the reciprocal of each trigonometric ratio using their definitions.

Example of reciprocal identity: The reciprocal of the sine ratio is cosecant. 

Reciprocal Identities Formulas

Reciprocal identities are used to simplify calculations in various trigonometry problems. The formulas for the six major reciprocal identities are as follows:

  • sin x $= \frac{1}{cosec\; x}$
  • cos x $= \frac{1}{sec\; x}$
  • tan x $= \frac{1}{cot\; x}$
  • cot x $= \frac{1}{tan\; x}$
  • sec x $= \frac{1}{cos\; x}$
  • cosec x $= \frac{1}{sin\; x}$

Proof of Reciprocal Identities

In geometry, trigonometry is a branch of mathematics that studies the relationship between the sides and angles of a right-angled triangle. Consider a right triangle.

Adjacent side, opposite side of an angle in a right triangle

Let’s understand the definition of each trigonometric ratio.

  • $sin\; \theta = \frac{Opposite\; Side}{Hypotenuse}$
    $cosec\; \theta = \frac{Hypotenuse}{Opposite\; Side}$
    sine and cosecant are reciprocals.
    Thus, $\frac{1}{sin\; \theta} = cosec\; \theta$  and $\frac{1}{cosec\; \theta} = sin\; \theta$
  • $cos\; \theta = \frac{Adjacent\; Side}{Hypotenuse}$
    $sec\; \theta = \frac{Hypotenuse}{Adjacent\; Side}$
    cosine and secant are reciprocals.
    Thus, $\frac{1}{cos\; \theta} = sec\; \theta$  and $\frac{1}{sec\; \theta} = cos\; \theta$
  • $tan\; \theta = \frac{Opposite\; Side}{Adjacent\; Side}$
    $cot\; \theta = \frac{Adjacent\; Side}{Opposite\; Side}$
    tangent and cotangent are reciprocals.
    Thus, $\frac{1}{tan\; \theta} = cot\; \theta$  and $\frac{1}{cot\; \theta} = tan\; \theta$

In summary:

  • sin $\theta$ is the reciprocal of cosec $\theta$.
  • cosec $\theta$ is the reciprocal of sin $\theta$.
  • cos $\theta$ is the reciprocal of sec $\theta$.
  • sec $\theta$ is the reciprocal of cos $\theta$.
  • tan $\theta$ is the reciprocal of cot $\theta$.
  • cot $\theta$ is the reciprocal of tan $\theta$.

Relationship between Reciprocal Identities

We know that any number multiplied with its reciprocal results in 1. Similarly, the product of a trigonometric ratio and its reciprocal is one. 

  • $sin\; \theta \times csc\; \theta = 1$
  • $cos\; \theta \times sec\; \theta = 1$
  • $tan\; \theta \times cot\; \theta = 1$


 $tan\; \theta = \frac{sin\; \theta}{cos\; \theta}$

$cot\; \theta = \frac{cos\; \theta}{sin\; \theta}$


Reciprocal identities are the reciprocals of the six fundamental trigonometric functions (sine, cosine, tangent, secant, cosecant, and cotangent). In this article, we explored different reciprocal identities, their formulas, and proof. Let’s solve a few examples and practice problems.

Solved Examples on Reciprocal Identities

1. With the use of a reciprocal identity, determine the expression’s value.

$\frac{sin\; \theta}{cos\; \theta} \times sec\; \theta \times csc\; \theta$


We know that,

$csc\; \theta = \frac{1}{sin\; \theta}$ and $sec\; \theta = \frac{1}{cos\; \theta}$

Substituting these values, 

$\frac{sin\;\theta}{cos\;\theta} \times sec\;\theta \times csc\;\theta = \frac{sin\;\theta}{cos\;\theta} \times \frac{1}{cos\;\theta} \times \frac{1}{sin\;\theta}$

$= \frac{1}{cos\;\theta} \times \frac{1}{cos\;\theta}$

$= \frac{1}{cos^{2}\theta}$

$= sec^{2}\theta$

2. If sin x $=\frac{1}{2}$ and cos x $= \frac{\sqrt{3}}{2}$, find all the other trigonometric ratios.


sin x $= \frac{1}{2}$

cos x $= \frac{\sqrt{3}}{2}$

tan x $= \frac{sin\;\theta}{cos\;\theta} = \frac{\frac{1}{2}}{\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2}} = \frac{1}{\sqrt{3}}$

cosec x $= \frac{1}{sin\; x} = 2$

sec x $= \frac{1}{cos\; x} = \frac{2}{sqrt{3}}$

3. For $\theta = 90^{\circ}$, sin $\theta = 1$ and cos $\theta = 0$. Find cosec $\theta$ and sec $\theta$.


$sin\; \theta = 1,\; cos\; \theta = 0$

$cosec\;\theta = \frac{1}{sin\;\theta}$ and$sec\;\theta = \frac{1}{cos\;\theta}$

$cosec\;\theta = \frac{1}{1}$ and $sec\;\theta = \frac{1}{0}$

$cosec\;\theta = 1$ and $sec\;\theta = Not\; defined$

Practice Problems on Reciprocal Identities

Reciprocal Identities in Trigonometry

Attend this quiz & Test your knowledge.


What is the reciprocal of $cos\;\theta$ ?

Correct answer is: $sec\;\theta$
$sec\;\theta$ is the reciprocal of $cos\;\theta$.

What is the value of $sec\;\theta$ if $cos\;\theta = \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}$?

Correct answer is: $\sqrt{2}$
$sec\;x = \frac{1}{cos\;x}$
Thus, $sec\;\theta = \frac{1}{cos\;\theta} = \sqrt{2}$

sin x ________ $= 1$

cos x
tan x
cosec x
sec x
Correct answer is: cosec x
sin x cosec x $= 1$
sin x is the reciprocal of cosec x.

What is the reciprocal identity of cot $\theta$?

Correct answer is: $tan\;\theta$
$cot\;\theta = \frac{1}{tan\;\theta}$

Frequently Asked Questions on Reciprocal Identities

Yes. However, such a division is not defined. Consider an example:

$tan 90^{\circ} = 0$

Thus,  cot  $90^{\circ}$ will be 1 divided by 0, which is not defined.

Six trigonometric ratios: sine, cosine, tangent, cotangent, secant, and cosecant.

Trigonometry has many applications in the fields such as engineering and aviation, where calculations of height and distance are involved.

$sin(x^{2})$ means to square the value of x first and then apply the sine function.$sin^{2}(x)$ simply means to square the value of sin(x).