Definition of tango in English:



  • 1A ballroom dance originating in Buenos Aires, characterized by marked rhythms and postures and abrupt pauses.

    • ‘‘We had less experience at the beginning, so I choreographed rumbas, tangos, and bulerias because they were familiar,’ he said.’
    • ‘Adults and children are well catered for in Saturday's packed workshop programme including samba drumming, bodhrán, African drumming, belly dancing, tango and salsa dancing.’
    • ‘The polka and waltz are very popular, but Slovenes dance all major dances from the tango to the macarena.’
    • ‘Argentine tango is a dance of the night - and passions that breed in the dark.’
    • ‘He maintains that it takes at least ten years to learn how to dance a tango.’
    • ‘Silently, he stops and gazes at a painting of a man and woman dancing the tango underneath the umbrellas of their servants; the shopkeeper sees him, and she goes outside to talk with him.’
    • ‘The influences that gave rise to the tango in the streets of Buenos Aires range from the Cuban habanera to Sicilian folk song and dance.’
    • ‘Aside from a few moments of group dancing, the evening comprises tangos of varying temperaments, performed by one couple after another (seven in all) and individually choreographed by the performers.’
    • ‘His main recreation remains ballroom dancing - tango, cha cha and waltz being his specialities.’
    • ‘As in Argentina, the tango is a popular dance form.’
    • ‘Women dance flamenco and tango and belly dancing.’
    • ‘It was also here that the music and dance of the tango, once described as vertical flirting, was born among the brothels and bordellos of Necochea, a street that today is lined with pizzerias, cantinas and gift shops.’
    • ‘They've been tap dancing, doing the tango, body-popping, dancing the salsa - you name it, he's seen it.’
    • ‘Young and old, they were dancing the tango together and singing their hearts out.’
    • ‘And while their environment may look European their spirit is Latin: people giggle in parks, dine out on great shanks of beef, dance the tango far into the night, and follow the passions of soccer.’
    • ‘In the shack, they danced the tango, the polka and the swing.’
    • ‘The waltz, foxtrot, tango and quickstep are danced in rapid-fire succession in each ballroom round while salsa steps up the beat to let Latin competitors loosen up a little and go through the paces of the rhumba, samba and cha cha.’
    • ‘The Argentine tango originated in Buenos Aires at the turn of the last century.’
    • ‘The next hour is spent dancing the tango, the waltz the rumba, the cha-cha and jive.’
    • ‘The bottle has quite a fancy label of a couple dancing the tango, which appears to move when you look at it from a different direction, which would suggest to me that this winemaker is very keen on the idea of exports.’
    1. 1.1 A piece of music written for or in the style of the tango, typically in a slow dotted duple rhythm.
      • ‘We played our prepared programme of Beatles songs, tangos, polkas, waltzes and hits of the 50s, 60s and early 70s, feeling slightly self-conscious at being so terribly out of date.’
      • ‘Our repertoire consisted of anything and everything from Beatles to tangos, from Viennese waltzes to Greek sirtakis, from Latin American to Polkas, and I also wrote a number of original pop songs in English, Spanish and Polish.’
      • ‘Conversely when she plays jazz or tango or Baroque she brings to it a very modern-classical intelligence and clarity.’
      • ‘This style of shooting matches up beautifully with tango music.’
      • ‘She shifts effortlessly from folk and blues to upbeat tangos and haunting instrumentals, all interspersed with humorous tales of her life on the road.’
      • ‘The composer's upbeat arrangements, jazzy and virtuoso, added a convincing tango beat to some of the Yiddish songs not originally conceived as such.’
      • ‘From waltzes, tangos, swing to romantic tunes the band excels in the music of Mozart, Lizst and Scubert.’
      • ‘The tango from The Threepenny Opera is given a beautiful performance by the singers, who impersonate the musical instrument, normally a guitar or zither, in the coda to the chorus, with their voices.’
      • ‘At the gallery, he played a warm-up tango by the Argentine, Astor Piazzola, before launching into 14 minutes of unaccompanied Bach.’
      • ‘There is always a tension in his music between the expressionist angst of contemporary classical music and the tango tradition.’
      • ‘They reflect popular music tastes of the time, most notably an interest in the seductive rhythms of the tango.’
      • ‘I also like to skate to classical music, tangos and Arabian music.’
      • ‘So you have to dance to the music, and the tango music is very, very passionate, and you're dancing to that music, and so therefore you have to express that feeling.’
      • ‘Precisely because tango music is devoid of drums it makes it a perfect vehicle for remixers to superimpose beats and drum patterns.’
      • ‘Right from his young age, he used to play on his piano, Bach, jazz, rock, tango and folk music from Argentina.’
      • ‘Like jazz, tango was a heady music that originated from the brothels and bars of the working classes.’
      • ‘She was playing a famous tango and singing it in perfect Castillian.’
      • ‘He leaned in to kiss me, when suddenly tango music came on.’
      • ‘He caps them with the theme rewritten as a polka/waltz, a tango, a czardas, in ragtime, and ‘in the style of film music.’’
      • ‘Popular folk music, tango, and national rock were back on the radio and national television to contribute to the national bonding.’
  • 2A code word representing the letter T, used in voice communication by radio.

    • ‘Golf Romeo Tango, turn left thirty degrees for identification.’
    • ‘Our echo-tango-alpha is thirty minutes.’
    • ‘It is very easy to be confused between the letters B and P, M and N etc. when speaking over the radio or telephone for example ‘TOM’ you would pronounce this as:- Tango Oscar Mike.’


  • Dance the tango.

    • ‘With colourful bursts of fireworks stimulating the eyes and unrestrained music exciting the ears, how could you resist tangoing along too?’
    • ‘She and a girlfriend pretended to tango, striding across the floor, tossing their long hair over their shoulders as they turned, then nearly falling over with laughter.’
    • ‘Alright, if she wants to tango, she can have me as her dance partner.’
    • ‘He grabs some girl away from her boyfriend and starts to tango, entirely against her will.’
    • ‘The dinner at the club is usually followed by a night of dancing, and at these galas, he is famous for tangoing and fox-trotting with every man's wife until the band packs up and calls it quits.’
    • ‘So, other than a partner, what does it take to tango?’
    • ‘They've spun, tangoed, waltzed, rumbaed, salsaed, funked, jazzed, hip-hopped and twirled their little hearts out and now they're sashaying off into the sunset in an hour-long final.’
    • ‘Some waltzed, some tangoed, some simply moved to the music.’
    • ‘And for any wallflowers out there, an item called Dance-Mate promises to pair viewers up with other dance fans looking for a partner to tango with.’
    • ‘Afternoon tea is served daily from 3pm onwards and often there are tea dances where you can waltz and tango away to your heart's content.’
    • ‘They started tangoing in Argentina, where one of North's 55 ballets was being staged last year, and now they watch videos of the dance and practise its oh-so-sexy steps in rare spare moments.’
    • ‘He was then encouraged by Francis Ford Coppola to write a movie about ‘a character who tangos.’’
    • ‘He says that the compadritos of the 1920s and 1930s tangoed to ‘simulate fighting.’’
    • ‘A drop-dead-gorgeous crowd was tangoing away in a makeshift, open-air amphitheater.’
    • ‘And it's not just the waltz I have been forced into learning, I have to tango, and rumba and do all this other stuff too.’
    • ‘We spent the next five hours with her trying to teach me how to tango, and me, stepping on her feet and apologizing.’
    • ‘The smash summer hit that has tangoed its way into America's living room all comes down to tonight.’
    • ‘We may be too old to tango, but my hand is extended to clap,’ he told him.’
    • ‘‘I had this marine here,’ I indicated the crumpled form of the marine, ‘want to tango with me, so we tangoed.’’
    • ‘If you're tempted to tango among the tulips, Tango Libre kicks off its annual Tango in the Park at the end of the month.’


  • it takes two to tango

    • informal Both parties involved in a situation or argument are responsible for it.

      • ‘Obviously, it takes two to tango, but I am confident that this country has very substantial support within the United States, and we will continue to work on the relationship.’
      • ‘In a relationship, just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to heal.’
      • ‘I am sorry but it takes two to tango and a male who is under 16 with a female under 16 should not be punished with detention centres and the like.’
      • ‘The general trend is to criticise and condemn young girls who get pregnant, instead of remembering it takes two to tango.’
      • ‘We endorse comments by both business associations that we have to find a way to have legislation which will have a wider impact than purely partisan values - but it takes two to tango.’
      • ‘After all, he explained when I'd protested, it takes two to tango.’
      • ‘Keep in mind, it takes two to tango in contract negotiations.’
      • ‘No use blaming only one partner because it takes two hands to clap just as it takes two to tango!’
      • ‘‘The company is bending over backwards to try to make this work because it is a very important initiative but it takes two to tango,’ he added.’
      • ‘One doctor answered me, it takes two to tango so you cannot take the responsibility alone.’


Late 19th century: from Latin American Spanish, perhaps of African origin.