noun ba·cha·ta \bä-ˈchä-tä\

Definition of bachata

  1. :  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

Love words? You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Join MWU now and get access to America’s largest dictionary, with:

  • 300,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

Origin and Etymology of bachata

borrowed from Caribbean Spanish, earlier, “partying, noisy revelry” of uncertain origin Fernando Ortiz Fernández, Glosario de afronegrismos (La Habana, 1924), p. 153, sees bachata as a derivative of bacha, supposedly a synonym, and both as apheretic 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 the blacks, 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

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up bachata? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


capable of being understood in two ways

Get Word of the Day daily email!