Definition of mambo in US English:



  • 1A Latin American dance similar in rhythm to the rumba.

    • ‘The foxtrot is still danced every night of the week in hundreds of modern sequence dance clubs around the country, along with the waltz, tango, rhumba, cha cha, mambo, salsa, swing and so on.’
    • ‘This ‘Gentleman of the Bass’ expressed his gratitude to Pérez Prado for making the mambo known throughout the world.’
    • ‘All in all, men no longer need to be concerned that they will be put on the spot to learn mambos and cha chas in class.’
    • ‘But while dancing the mambo in a fruit headdress, this art history major secretly desired to emulate Elsie de Wolfe, the influential society decorator.’
    • ‘Well, technically, I could only say that the Cuban mambo and the Jive were our best dances, because I hadn't learnt the Cha Cha or the Box Rhumba during the somewhat dramatic school dance classes.’
    • ‘For the mambo, cha-cha, merengue, and the traditional rhythmic dance the son, each dancer moved vigorously yet effortlessly, even as the tempo changed.’
    • ‘Will and I danced the gypsy tap, the mambo and the samba, just as we had in my garage.’
    • ‘The lead couple, George Chakiris and Rita Moreno, heat up the screen with their glorious, sexy mambo at the gym.’
    • ‘De La Serna gained 15 pounds, took mambo and tango lessons and mastered the accent of Cordoba.’
    • ‘After a long slug, he launches into a remixed version of the old mambo tune Chihuahua and soon has everyone on the subway chanting ‘Chihuahua!’’
    • ‘It is true that as we age we may no longer be able to jitterbug or engage in a fast mambo.’
    • ‘He and his late brother, Orestes, are credited with creating the mambo in 1939.’
    • ‘But a couple of months ago, in a Times Square studio, congas were pounding out Afro-Cuban rhythms and dancers in high heels were twirling to fast-paced mambos.’
    • ‘Dora's cousin Daisy is turning 15, and Dora and Boots are looking forward to doing the mambo at Daisy's party.’
    • ‘Along the way, she sees some musicians playing while the neighbourhood churns with the mambos and rumbas she learned from her parents.’
    • ‘From the mambo to street stomp, dance can take you back in time to the big band era, or to faraway lands like Morocco and Brazil.’
    • ‘Like the other Latin dances, the mambo is characterised by ‘Cuban motion’ - the recognised term for authentic Latin hip action.’
    • ‘It didn't take long, though, before she was shaking to a mambo beat, and straining the cocktail into a chilled Martini glass.’
    • ‘But it would be an arbitrary theme, like when David Byrne made his mambo record.’
    • ‘Both Latin and South America are hot, passionate, and filled with the sensuous beats of the mambo, samba, and tango.’
  • 2A voodoo priestess.

    • ‘These gods are not only expected to protect people, but they are also expected to accord special favors through their representatives on earth which are the mambos.’
    • ‘The mambo derives her power from Creole voodoo.’
    • ‘Two autobiographical carvings depict his belief that a mambo had cursed him by placing snakes in his belly.’
    • ‘I don't know if this is orthodox Haitian Vodoo belief, but I heard it from a Haitian mambo who says some of her people believe it.’
    • ‘She returned in 1936, having passed rigorous initiation rites to become a mambo.’


[no object]
  • Dance the mambo.

    ‘the floor throbbed as the mass of dancers mamboed seriously’
    • ‘You'll laugh and mambo with the locals in Havana, Cuba.’
    • ‘The event was part of this year's Winter Carnival week where contestants moved, mamboed and mouthed the words to musical hits under the theme of ‘Worst Love Songs.’’
    • ‘Everybody was mamboing all over the place.’
    • ‘The ‘Dancing’ 11 were back Monday night, and they mamboed and quick stepped, hoping to dance again next week.’
    • ‘You may find yourself mamboing around your living room before you know it.’
    • ‘These five-decade veterans of the Cuban music scene cha-cha-chaed, mamboed, and sang liquid notes that hung above the crowd like ripe fruit.’
    • ‘With the men doing the quickstep and the women mamboing, there's no telling what might fly.’
    • ‘In the nineties, Vernon Boggs continuously made his appearance on the club scene in order to hear the music he loved and on occasion, he mamboed on the dance floor.’
    • ‘The wife has even caught me once or thrice mamboing around the condo.’
    • ‘Glam rockers Scissor Sisters were the first musical act of the evening, backing professional dancers Cheryl Burke and Jesse DeSoto as they mamboed to ‘Take Your Mama’.’
    • ‘He's mamboing with Chita Rivera, the first Hispanic to receive the Kennedy Center Honors and a beloved celebrity in his native Puerto Rico.’
    • ‘But this didn't stop her from moving to the beat of the driving conga drums as my brother taught us to mambo in our living room.’
    • ‘Instead, he has been mamboing in the ballroom of a cruise ship and sunbathing at pool side, much to the delight of the paparazzi.’


1940s: from American Spanish, probably from Haitian Creole, from Yoruba, literally ‘to talk’.