Definition of samba in US English:


nounPlural sambas

  • 1A Brazilian dance of African origin.

    • ‘They lit fireworks, danced the samba and waved flags emblazoned with the red star, but Brazil's left scored only a partial victory in a presidential race that now goes to a second round.’
    • ‘Brazilian samba also appears in the global music and dance show, tomorrow from 6.30 pm.’
    • ‘Dances like the samba, rhumba, cha-cha, and mambo were the sexiest things that white people were allowed to do until the twist came along, and Cugie was always there to fill the bill.’
    • ‘A young Brazilian chorus called Crianca Feliz dressed in colorful T-shirts sang and danced a samba inside the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall auditorium, preceded by a trio of singers from Argentina.’
    • ‘Musical groups danced the samba all the way, beating bongo drums and shaking tambourines.’
    1. 1.1 A piece of music for the samba.
      • ‘When the doors to the club are thrown open at 10 pm, music fans can expect a rare treat with two different DJs and three different live bands performing everything from salsa to samba to reggae to hip-hop.’
      • ‘Already well-liked for her breezy bossa novas and sambas, Joyce has come to the UK with a tour, a fresh set of songs and a stylish six-piece band.’
      • ‘There has also been live entertainment in every city square to accommodate all tastes, from music of the Commonwealth in Barbirolli Square to samba and jazz in Great Northern Square.’
      • ‘The finale is a blazing samba, with all sorts of cross-rhythms and various textures.’
      • ‘He is an experienced musician with specialist skills in percussion, rhythm, samba, composition and making percussion instruments from different cultures.’
    2. 1.2 A lively modern ballroom dance imitating the samba.
      • ‘They danced to ‘Love Is in the Air,’ backed up by about twenty ballroom dancers in the center and 700 couples around the outside track perimeter, all doing a lively samba.’

verbsamba'd, sambaed, sambaing, sambas

[no object]
  • Dance the samba.

    • ‘Men like the late Jim Butler and Seamus Sommers took us first-timers out on the floor to teach us to waltz, do foxtrots, quicksteps and to samba.’
    • ‘He sambas, he shimmies, and he specialises in fast-footwork moves that delight the audience.’
    • ‘Everyone's back on stage for the Carnaval Finale, and there'll be plenty of room for the audience to samba and share the festive spirit.’
    • ‘By the stereo, Mauro is trying to teach an Arabic Danish girl how to samba.’


Late 19th century: from Portuguese, of African origin.