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The derivative of cosx. How to differentiate cosx.

Updated on April 18, 2011

The derivative of cos x is –sinx. Just remember cos goes to minus sin.

A more general and useful version of this is:

if y = cosf(x)

Then dy/dx = -f’(x)sinf(x)

Let’s take a look at some examples:

Example 1

Work out the derivative of y = cos4x.

f(x) = 4x so f ‘(x) = 4


dy/dx = -4sin4x

Example 2

Work out the derivative of y = cos(7x+3)

f(x) = 7x+3 so f ‘(x) = 7


dy/dx = -7sin(7x+3)

Example 3

Work out the derivative of y = cos(x-5)

f(x) = x-5 so f ‘(x) = 1


dy/dx = -sin(x-5)

Example 4

Work out the derivative of y = cosx²

f(x) = x² so f ‘(x) = 2x


dy/dx = -2xsin(x²)

Example 5

Work out the derivative of y = cos(x³+4x²)

f(x) = x³+4x²so f ‘(x) = 3x² + 8x


dy/dx = -(3x² + 8x )sin(x³ + 4x²)

Extra Tips

Don’t forget the negative sign in your answer.

Harder Example

Work out the gradient of the tangent at x = 10 on the graph of y = cos(3x).

In order to find the gradient of the tangent, all you need to do is plug in x = 10 into dy/dx.

However, first you need to find dy/dx.

f(x) = 3x so f ‘(x) =3


dy/dx = -3sin(3x)

Now plug in x =10

dy/dx = -3sin(3 X 10)

dy/dx = -3sin(30)

dy/dx = -1.5

So the gradient of the tangent is -1.5


Submit a Comment

  • catman3000 profile image

    Mark 7 years ago from England, UK

    Thanks for spotting the typing error Anthony.

  • profile image

    Anthony Nixon 7 years ago

    Hey guys, Example two is incorrect.

    f(x)= cos(7*x+3)

    f'(x) = -7sin(7*x+3)


    the answer given, simple mistake just dropped a 3 :)