Main definitions of tangle in English

: tangle1tangle2

tangle1

verb

  • 1[with object] Twist together into a confused mass:

    ‘the broom somehow got tangled up in my long skirt’
    • ‘Continuing to follow the lines past other tangled pieces of wreckage brought us to the main hull of the ship.’
    • ‘As you edge into position, the kite has to be put up and away from the boat without tumbling into the fly-bridge, tangling the riggers or touching the water - normally the sea is too lumpy for someone to do this from the bow.’
    • ‘His legs were apparently tangled in fishing line so he couldn't kick or swim.’
    • ‘His long hair was tangled and matted, and I brushed it off his forehead as I cradled his head in my hand.’
    • ‘She was tangling the phone cord with her index finger.’
    • ‘We liked to think that the story of Australia is not one, but many tangled together.’
    • ‘If the bait spins it will inevitably tangle these short snoods and the baits will not be well presented.’
    • ‘Problems began yesterday afternoon when a tram became stranded near the station when the power lines became tangled with its overhead power connection.’
    • ‘The singer kept tangling his mike wire around things and almost knocked the stand over twice!’
    • ‘I love to tangle my hands up in the strings, let them go free, then tangle them up again.’
    • ‘Her face is splattered with mud and her hair is tangled and windswept.’
    • ‘Soon the rings and cans get all tangled together, and you have a huge mess inside the cooler.’
    • ‘Then he saw her, sitting on a stone bench in the midst of a group of tall, tangled white roses.’
    • ‘Her hair hung in clumps down her back, tangled together and being blown in the wind.’
    • ‘I grumbled, one arm hanging off the edge of my bed as I turned over, only tangling my sheets around me even more.’
    • ‘The nets the poor girl is tangled in are firmly meshed themselves in a whole mess of nets and bushes and pans and timber.’
    • ‘The grape-vines are tangling their way over the trellis I put in last month.’
    • ‘Attempting flight, she tangled her foot in the sheet and landed on her knees.’
    • ‘In spite of my enthusiasm, I seemed to get my feet all tangled up even with the simplest of moves.’
    • ‘It was tangled so to get her fingers through it like a comb was a bit of a challenge, but she managed.’
    entangle, snarl, catch, entwine, intertwine, intertwist, twist, ravel, knot, enmesh, coil, mat, jumble, muddle
    ravelled, entangled, entwined, intertwisted, twisted, knotted, knotty, enmeshed, coiled, matted, tangly, messy, muddled
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Make (something) complicated or confused:
      ‘a ploy to tangle matters even further’
      • ‘The institutional church has become hopelessly corporate, hopelessly tangled in a web of secularism.’
      • ‘Western aid also helps counter the effects of Montenegro's impossibly tangled government budget and economic system.’
      • ‘Like the whole tangled story of the casa nostra, the new Mafia museum contains more secrets than meets the eye.’
      • ‘She disguises herself as her twin brother and is drawn into a hilariously tangled web of affections.’
      • ‘Furthermore, we must avoid tangling science and religion.’
      • ‘Her mind was a twisted and tangled web of emotions, changing every time she thought she liked someone.’
      • ‘He tangles these loose story lines just tight enough to sustain tension through 500 pages of his trademark Scottish beat prose.’
      • ‘Their visit to Elvis is now so tangled up in drug-related memory loss that it's hard to say if anything happened at all.’
      • ‘It's sad when your emotions get tangled up so much in the web of love.’
      • ‘Unsurprisingly, nothing is what it seems as his play tangles its way to a quadruple-cross conclusion.’
      • ‘The more I think about it, the more I get tangled up in a web of interpretations, none of which make complete sense.’
      • ‘The communications industry is becoming an increasingly tangled web.’
      • ‘She became an expert in parliamentary law - cutting through red tape and also tangling red tape up to suit her purposes.’
      • ‘They get tangled up in a web by telling each side what it wants to hear rather than what it needs to hear.’
      • ‘Despite flashbacking and fast forwarding, the storyline is so tangled it encourages speculation.’
      • ‘An industry drive to make that tangled web more secure is long overdue, he says.’
      • ‘When you lie and lie and lie, you get tangled up and forget what the truth really is.’
      • ‘To reveal more would be to enter an endlessly tangled web of mistaken identity.’
      confused, jumbled, mixed up, messy, chaotic, scrambled, complicated, involved, convoluted, complex, intricate, knotty, tortuous, devious, maze-like, labyrinthine
      View synonyms
  • 2tangle withinformal [no object] Become involved in a conflict or fight with:

    ‘they usually come a cropper when they tangle with the heavy mobs’
    • ‘The former Yugoslav President is on trial at the Hague right now and has been tangling with the judges, the prosecutors and the witnesses.’
    • ‘Of course, then I recall my recent trips to Old Mexico, and tangles with uranium mining and coal power protests and realize that direct action feels good, and maybe tomorrow I might just get back into it.’
    • ‘He tangled with other cardinals and disciplined church officials who dissented from official church policy.’
    • ‘She returned more powerful than ever and soon tangled with the president's top political aide who became so frustrated that he told the vice-president he would have to leave unless she was reined in.’
    • ‘Still, they are highly imaginative and even funny, involving the team's tangle with a cosmic bureaucracy known as the Time Variance Authority.’
    • ‘Perhaps there's a fear of tangling with those traffic engineers in the Works Department.’
    • ‘In the book there is a well known passage in which he tangles with the Dean of Studies over the word ‘tundish’.’
    • ‘As he droned on, I would watch the kites flying and tangling with each other in the afternoon sky, mentally replay a lost game of marbles, or look forward to the Test match between Pakistan and the West Indies.’
    • ‘Japan's forces in northeast Asia, known as the Kwantung Army, had already tangled with the Russians in 1939 when the Japanese tried to invade Mongolia.’
    • ‘But this time he has abandoned the fickle movie industry and veered into the music business, tangling with Russian mobsters and gangster rappers and taking a talented, feisty young singer named Linda Moon under his wing.’
    • ‘I'd grown tired of tear gas and heavily armed teenagers, of having my sources arrested or, in one case, killed, of walking into minefields and tangling with mobs.’
    • ‘In their hunger to attract subscribers, many telecom operators have tangled with an unexpected enemy: the fraudulent customer’
    • ‘In his 20s, he often crossed the border from Mexico into Texas where, when he wasn't tangling with the local police, he took careful note of the local language.’
    • ‘If you've ever had the displeasure of tangling with your landlord at the rental board, you know getting yourself down there is half the battle.’
    • ‘There may be occasional problems over some matters but, in my experience, one should simply avoid tangling with bureaucrats whenever it is possible.’
    • ‘Having tangled with his ilk before, I took on the role of elder ichthyologist.’
    • ‘He does do the one rewind-worthy martial arts move in the entire movie when he finally tangles with Li, but that's small comfort in the midst of the least climactic battle of either combatant's career.’
    • ‘It lasted less than a minute before he was red-carded for tangling with an opponent who had pulled his shirt.’
    • ‘He got himself involved in an unsightly tangle with the home striker and both were sent off.’
    • ‘They then often witness commissioners tangling with department management.’
    come into conflict, become involved, have a dispute, dispute, argue, quarrel, fight, row, wrangle, squabble, contend, cross swords, lock horns
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noun

  • 1A confused mass of something twisted together:

    ‘a tangle of golden hair’
    • ‘He pushed his fingers through the damp tangles and twisted the ends with his fingertips.’
    • ‘This braid is a lot more difficult to accomplish if your hair has tangles or knots.’
    • ‘Skyscrapers shoot out of the ground like mushrooms overnight, and each humid and often overcast day brings a fresh twist in the tangle of four-lane carriageways that snake through the city.’
    • ‘I looked up, and between the buildings pressed close together and behind the tangle of tram lines, the sky was pink and gold.’
    • ‘Instead she smoothed her hair with her hand, calming the dishevelled tangles and knots, and walked back into the empty bedroom.’
    • ‘Together with their messy tangle of wires they further despoil the view through The Village already made unsightly by the telecom company's previous assaults.’
    • ‘I was flushed by the time I pushed heavily through the doors of the library, and my windblown hair was in twists and tangles, not that my appearance bothered me tonight as it rarely ever did.’
    • ‘I brushed the tangles out of the golden locks and French-braided it down my back.’
    • ‘Her hair was a mess of tangles and knots, and she didn't even look up when we entered the room.’
    • ‘His hair showed an unruly tendency to curl, flipping out at his ears and twisting in tangles.’
    • ‘His brown hair was an unruly mass of tangles and knots.’
    • ‘I've spent some time watching the bands, all heaped together in a tangle of charity shop clothing, talking about their music.’
    • ‘Blood clots are formed by platelets - small shards of old cells which float harmlessly in the blood until they are chemically triggered to stick together in a tangle of threads of fibrin protein.’
    • ‘These products allow you to simply roll up strands of lights, much like a garden hose holder, so next year you won't have to fight with tangles.’
    • ‘Break up tangles with a wide-toothed comb or just your fingers.’
    • ‘I resume brushing the knots and tangles out of his hair and furrow my brow, once again in deep contemplation.’
    • ‘As always when she woke up, her hair was a mass of tangles.’
    • ‘Her hair was a mass of tangles, sand and sweat caked to her scalp.’
    • ‘His head was thrown back, and his hair was crusted with dried blood and twisted in nasty tangles behind him.’
    • ‘She fought through the tangle of brushwood trying to catch up with her fleeing friend.’
    snarl, mass, mat, cluster, knot, mesh, disorder, thatch, web
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    1. 1.1 A confused or complicated state; a muddle:
      ‘the home team's defence got into an awful tangle’
      • ‘The great virtue of his sweeping narrative is that it acknowledges both the complex tangle of loyalties that drove all those who fought in the wars and the importance of events in Scotland and Ireland.’
      • ‘Chapter 3 examines the confused tangle of existing and proposed pipelines, which is far too complex to summarize here.’
      • ‘Most cases proved far more difficult, and never escaped the tangle of legal complications that surrounded the issue.’
      • ‘He begins a race against time to find the real killer - fighting his way through a tangle of lies and deceit to uncover an act of evil which has destroyed the life of more than one young person.’
      • ‘Throw in the fact that you need to master a few other programs to support the design software and you have a confusing tangle of programs to learn all at once’
      • ‘All she wanted was to sleep for a week or so and then try sorting out this catastrophic tangle of events.’
      • ‘The reason for the delay is the mess ministers are making of the terrible tangle of complicated regulations in an already rotten piece of legislation.’
      • ‘I do think beneath the tangle of consumer culture we do have quite simple needs - love, sex and affection, satisfying work, feelings of progression.’
      • ‘The notion that the tangle of potent and conflicting interests in Americans' medical information could be resolved over such a short period now seems little short of quaint.’
      • ‘This elegant little book is based on a good idea: to relate the history of the Sydney Opera House as a tangle of architectural, political and cultural narratives.’
      • ‘Again, either way it is quite easy to anticipate an enormous tangle of legal disputes if this proposal were adopted.’
      • ‘I'm sure a few of you may be getting individual mails about this at some point in the future, but it's a complicated tangle, and I really don't want to go there.’
      • ‘Out of this bewildering tangle, we are fortunate to have extracted a few points of clarity.’
      • ‘One agency attempting to unravel the tangle is the U.S. Department of Agriculture.’
      • ‘Given the tangle of alliances and expectations, this led to war.’
      • ‘Her mind was in a tangle - was being with her worth the anguish of battle?’
      • ‘The real evil is the muddle, the tangle of evasions, words, intrigues by which he instinctively seeks to dodge reality.’
      • ‘Her music was neither primal punk nor introspective blues but a more complex tangle of emotions shared by both.’
      • ‘The lawsuits consist of an immensely complicated tangle of legal proceedings, which need only be outlined here.’
      • ‘No, this is not a revelation that unraveled the inexorable tangles of my mind.’
      muddle, jumble, mix-up, confusion, entanglement, mishmash, shambles, scramble
      View synonyms
  • 2informal A fight, argument, or disagreement:

    ‘she got into a tangle with staff’
    • ‘60 mins: they get in another tangle down on the touchline.’
    • ‘And they always looked capable of scoring at a set-piece: a messy goalmouth tangle, a muscular header.’
    • ‘Right now the food is rotting and people are starving because of bureaucratic tangles.’
    • ‘With her ruling early in November, the five-year legal tangle over the future of the Corporation has ended.’
    • ‘The company's many tangles with the court are well known.’
    • ‘But the legal tangles and public resistance would always be there.’
    • ‘It's a big one, and it's going to cause a massive legal tangle.’
    • ‘Akin to the Rapunzel character in the classic Grimm fairy tale, the long tresses of this 12th class student from Kollam nearly got her into a serious tangle.’
    • ‘The report's myriad analyses of bureaucratic tangles, however, indicate a continuing lack of focus.’
    • ‘Once again, we get into these enormous potential legal tangles.’
    • ‘The team's hopes of turning around the final faded in the 83rd minute when the keeper was sent off for violent conduct after clashing with another player in a goalmouth tangle.’
    • ‘It is left to India and China, who have in the past, frittered away their most creative energies in wars and conflicts to rise above their tangles and claim the economic leadership that he is fast abandoning.’
    • ‘However, since May 2000 the company has been mothballed over ongoing legal tussles and tangles.’
    • ‘Her husband is a US citizen which takes care of all the legal tangles in her life.’
    • ‘At one point, to try to help me understand the whole tangle, he pulled out a piece of scrap paper - a flyer announcing a picket of a new fashion store.’
    • ‘All of that creates a further unnecessary tangle, and potential extra costs in terms of time, money, and compliance for both a staff member and an employer.’
    • ‘He would have to be a very smooth talker to extricate himself from this tangle.’
    • ‘It's true that having only a few states recognize gay marriage would lead to confusions and legal tangles.’

Origin

Middle English (in the sense ‘entangle, catch in a tangle’): probably of Scandinavian origin and related to Swedish dialect taggla disarrange.

Pronunciation:

tangle

/ˈtaŋɡ(ə)l/

Main definitions of tangle in English

: tangle1tangle2

tangle2

noun

  • [mass noun] Any of a number of brown seaweeds, especially oarweed.

    • ‘So the rocks were uncovered now, which seldom tasted the air, and the stems of the great oarweed, or tangle, which grew from them, were bent into a half-circle by the weight of their broad leathery fronds, as, no longer buoyed up by the sea, they lay trailing on the sands.’
    • ‘Kelps are generally larger than the wracks and the most common, known as Tangle or Oarweed, Laminaria digitata, grows up to 3 – 4 metres long.’
    • ‘An entirely natural extract, it is based on seaweed or tangle, widely available around Scotland's shores and islands.’
    • ‘With low tides, tangle is the first of the kelps to be exposed by the tide.’

Origin

Mid 16th century: probably from Norwegian tongul.

Pronunciation:

tangle

/ˈtaŋɡ(ə)l/