ba·​cha·​ta bä-ˈchä-tä How to pronounce bachata (audio)
: a genre of popular song and dance of the Dominican Republic performed with guitars and percussion
The group has helped make bachata's romantic tidings and spiky guitar syncopations a staple of Latin radio …Jody Rosen, New York Times, 3 June 2009

Word History


borrowed from Caribbean Spanish, earlier, "partying, noisy revelry" of uncertain origin

Note: Fernando Ortiz Fernández, Glosario de afronegrismos (La Habana, 1924), p. 153, sees bachata as a derivative of bacha, supposedly a synonym, and both as aphaeretic forms of cumbancha or cumbacha (the latter very rare if it exists), which has approximately the same meaning as bachata. The base of cumbancha, per Ortiz Fernández, is cumbé, "a dance of Black people, and the music to which they dance" ("un baile de los negros, y el son á que se baila"), as the word is glossed in successive editions of the dictionary of the Real Academia Española, going back to the Diccionario de autoridades (the C volume in 1729), which cites the word in verse by the dramatist Francisco de Castro (1672-1713). These connections are possible, but speculative; the African etymologies proffered by Ortiz Fernández are even more speculative.

First Known Use

1957, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bachata was in 1957

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Dictionary Entries Near bachata

Cite this Entry

“Bachata.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

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