Definition of samba in US English:



  • 1A Brazilian dance of African origin.

    ‘a woman danced the samba carrying a pitcher of lemonade’
    • ‘Brazilian samba also appears in the global music and dance show, tomorrow from 6.30 pm.’
    • ‘Musical groups danced the samba all the way, beating bongo drums and shaking tambourines.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 A piece of music for the samba.
      ‘folk tunes from the north of Brazil, or sambas from the south’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    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.’


[no object]
  • Dance the samba.

    ‘how do you kill five hours in Rio if you don't 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.’
    • ‘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.’


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