Definition of tango in English:



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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In the shack, they danced the tango, the polka and the swing.’
    • ‘The polka and waltz are very popular, but Slovenes dance all major dances from the tango to the macarena.’
    • ‘His main recreation remains ballroom dancing - tango, cha cha and waltz being his specialities.’
    • ‘He maintains that it takes at least ten years to learn how to dance a tango.’
    • ‘‘We had less experience at the beginning, so I choreographed rumbas, tangos, and bulerias because they were familiar,’ he said.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Young and old, they were dancing the tango together and singing their hearts out.’
    • ‘As in Argentina, the tango is a popular dance form.’
    • ‘Argentine tango is a dance of the night - and passions that breed in the dark.’
    • ‘Women dance flamenco and tango and belly dancing.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They've been tap dancing, doing the tango, body-popping, dancing the salsa - you name it, he's seen it.’
    • ‘The next hour is spent dancing the tango, the waltz the rumba, the cha-cha and jive.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1A 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.’
      • ‘The composer's upbeat arrangements, jazzy and virtuoso, added a convincing tango beat to some of the Yiddish songs not originally conceived as such.’
      • ‘They reflect popular music tastes of the time, most notably an interest in the seductive rhythms of the tango.’
      • ‘Conversely when she plays jazz or tango or Baroque she brings to it a very modern-classical intelligence and clarity.’
      • ‘There is always a tension in his music between the expressionist angst of contemporary classical music and the tango tradition.’
      • ‘He leaned in to kiss me, when suddenly tango music came on.’
      • ‘Popular folk music, tango, and national rock were back on the radio and national television to contribute to the national bonding.’
      • ‘She was playing a famous tango and singing it in perfect Castillian.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He caps them with the theme rewritten as a polka/waltz, a tango, a czardas, in ragtime, and ‘in the style of film music.’’
      • ‘From waltzes, tangos, swing to romantic tunes the band excels in the music of Mozart, Lizst and Scubert.’
      • ‘At the gallery, he played a warm-up tango by the Argentine, Astor Piazzola, before launching into 14 minutes of unaccompanied Bach.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She shifts effortlessly from folk and blues to upbeat tangos and haunting instrumentals, all interspersed with humorous tales of her life on the road.’
      • ‘Right from his young age, he used to play on his piano, Bach, jazz, rock, tango and folk music from Argentina.’
      • ‘I also like to skate to classical music, tangos and Arabian music.’
      • ‘Like jazz, tango was a heady music that originated from the brothels and bars of the working classes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This style of shooting matches up beautifully with tango music.’
  • 2A code word representing the letter T, used in voice communication by radio.

    • ‘Golf Romeo Tango, turn left thirty degrees for identification.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Our echo-tango-alpha is thirty minutes.’


  • Dance the tango.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Alright, if she wants to tango, she can have me as her dance partner.’
    • ‘Some waltzed, some tangoed, some simply moved to the music.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was then encouraged by Francis Ford Coppola to write a movie about ‘a character who tangos.’’
    • ‘A drop-dead-gorgeous crowd was tangoing away in a makeshift, open-air amphitheater.’
    • ‘‘I had this marine here,’ I indicated the crumpled form of the marine, ‘want to tango with me, so we tangoed.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘With colourful bursts of fireworks stimulating the eyes and unrestrained music exciting the ears, how could you resist tangoing along too?’
    • ‘He grabs some girl away from her boyfriend and starts to tango, entirely against her will.’
    • ‘The smash summer hit that has tangoed its way into America's living room all comes down to tonight.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He says that the compadritos of the 1920s and 1930s tangoed to ‘simulate fighting.’’
    • ‘We may be too old to tango, but my hand is extended to clap,’ he told him.’
    • ‘We spent the next five hours with her trying to teach me how to tango, and me, stepping on her feet and apologizing.’
    • ‘So, other than a partner, what does it take to tango?’


  • it takes two to tango

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

      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In a relationship, just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to heal.’
      • ‘Keep in mind, it takes two to tango in contract negotiations.’
      • ‘One doctor answered me, it takes two to tango so you cannot take the responsibility alone.’
      • ‘The general trend is to criticise and condemn young girls who get pregnant, instead of remembering it takes two to tango.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘No use blaming only one partner because it takes two hands to clap just as 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.’


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