\ ˈdan(t)s How to pronounce dance (audio) , ˈdän(t)s\
danced; dancing

Definition of dance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to move one's body rhythmically usually to music : to engage in or perform a dance (see dance entry 2 sense 2) dancing to our favorite song Shall we dance?
2 : to move or seem to move up and down or about in a quick or lively manner dance for joy leaves dancing in the wind

transitive verb

1 : to perform or take part in as a dancer dance the waltz
2 : to cause to dance danced the baby on her knee
3 : to bring into a specified condition by dancing danced his way into her heart
dance attendance
: to attend in an eager and servile manner a celebrity used to having people dance attendance on him


noun, often attributive

Definition of dance (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of moving one's body rhythmically usually to music : an act or instance of dancing (see dance entry 1 sense 1) the couple's first dance as husband and wife May I have this dance?
2 : a series of rhythmic and patterned bodily movements usually performed to music slow dances dance moves
3 : a social gathering for dancing a high school dance
4 : a piece of music by which dancing may be guided
5 : the art of dancing studied dance in college

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Other Words from dance


danceable \ ˈdan(t)-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce danceable (audio) \ adjective
dancer noun

Synonyms for dance

Synonyms: Verb

foot (it), hoof (it), step

Synonyms: Noun

ball, cotillion (also cotillon), formal, hop, prom

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Examples of dance in a Sentence


He never learned how to dance. She has always loved to dance. I like the song but it's really hard to dance to. He danced her across the floor. She dances with a famous ballet company. She's a great actress, and she can dance and sing, too.


They can do all the popular dances. The only dance he knows how to do is the twist. How about one more dance? He stopped right in the middle of the dance to tie his shoe. He did a celebration dance in the end zone after scoring the touchdown. She studied dance in college.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

At his very 1st talent show, little Cameron’s dancing lit up the stage, and left everyone on their feet, cheering. Jodi Guglielmi,, "Debby Ryan Shares Touching Clip of Jessie Costar Cameron Boyce in the Wake of His Death," 8 July 2019 Just another step in a meticulous plan hatched more than a decade ago between two guys on lonely nights in an empty gym, the silence broken by a bouncing ball and dancing net. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Kawhi to the Clippers is crazy and unexpected, and makes perfect sense," 6 July 2019 After drinking a mysterious yellow liquid (it’s definitely drugs!), the women follow an elder’s dancing instructions. Elena Nicolaou,, "How Midsommar's May Queen Scene Connects To A Real Swedish Legend," 5 July 2019 Wang could be seen chair-dancing to the soulful tunes, and guests clapped along as the group swished across a makeshift dance floor. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Deepika Padukone, Kendall Jenner, and the Stars of “Ain't Too Proud” Attend the New York-Presbyterian Hospital Youth Anxiety Center Dinner," 18 June 2019 Monthly revenue from sales of virtual perks such as costumes and dance moves for players’ avatars has fallen 56% since peaking at a record $372.2 million in December, according to Nielsen’s SuperData. Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ, "The Man Behind ‘Fortnite’," 15 June 2019 But if animals are behaving in a way that is strictly for human enjoyment (like a dancing monkey), chances are that the animal has been taken from its natural environment unnecessarily. Heather Greenwood Davis, National Geographic, "Do this, not that," 12 June 2019 Another pair were clasping each other’s shoulders like slow-dancing eighth graders, one of them weeping. Emma Grey Ellis, WIRED, "I Think I Hated This Tech Conference on Psychedelics," 8 June 2019 Syrio Forel Episode: 8 Cause of death: Arya's beloved water-dancing coach died protecting his little protege from Lannister soldiers. Stacey Leasca, Glamour, "All the Game of Thrones Deaths We've Somehow Made It Through," 19 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Fresh out of Hollywood High School — where Judy Garland was a classmate — Marsh won an MGM movie dance role. Scott Harrison,, "From the Archives: Standard Airlines crash survivor Caren Marsh-Doll keeps dancing," 12 July 2019 Orlando Ballet fans, take note: Arcadian Broad dances in the ensemble in his last local performance before joining the Cincinnati Ballet. Matthew J. Palm,, "‘Flashdance’ story should have stayed in the ’80s | Review," 12 July 2019 After dinner, Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie spun Brit-pop dance music, giving the crowd, which included Erdem Moralioglu, Daisy Lowe, and Finn Cole, a chance to dance off their indulgences. Mankaprr Conteh, Vogue, "Alexa Chung Hosted a Wine-Filled Dinner Party in London," 12 July 2019 The Carousel closed months after Ruby was arrested following the loss of the club's dance permit and beer license. Maria Elena Vizcaino, Dallas News, "Nancy Myers, who danced as Tammi True at Jack Ruby's Carousel Club, dies at 81," 11 July 2019 Theme is necessary to make a dance cohere, but variation keeps our eyes keenly open. Janine Parker,, "The simple gift of the Shaker experience, reimagined in dance," 11 July 2019 But in what way is Duke Orsino (a bit blandly played by Bryce Michael Wood) illuminated by being turned into the dance hall’s owner? Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "‘Twelfth Night’ Review: A Bland Transposition," 11 July 2019 The inaugural event offers dance classes with choreographers for ages 15 and older July 17-20 at the Indiana Convention Center. Chris Sims, Indianapolis Star, "Everything you need to know about Indiana Black Expo's Summer Celebration in Indianapolis," 10 July 2019 Snowball is not the only parrot with a hit dance video on the internet. Author: Jason Bittel, Anchorage Daily News, "Snowball the cockatoo taught himself 14 dance moves, scientists say," 9 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dance


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dance

Verb and Noun

Middle English dauncen, from Anglo-French dancer

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More Definitions for dance



English Language Learners Definition of dance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move your body in a way that goes with the rhythm and style of music that is being played
: to move with and guide (someone) as music plays : to dance with (someone)
: to perform (a particular type of dance)



English Language Learners Definition of dance (Entry 2 of 2)

: a series of movements that are done as music is playing : a way of dancing
: an act of dancing
: the art or activity of dancing


\ ˈdans How to pronounce dance (audio) \
danced; dancing

Kids Definition of dance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to step or move through a series of movements usually in time to music
2 : to move about or up and down quickly and lightly Butterflies danced in the garden.

Other Words from dance

dancer noun



Kids Definition of dance (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of stepping or moving through a series of movements usually in time to music
2 : a social gathering for dancing
3 : a set of movements or steps for dancing usually in time to special music The samba is a popular dance of Brazil.
4 : the art of dancing She is studying dance.

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More from Merriam-Webster on dance

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dance

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dance

Spanish Central: Translation of dance

Nglish: Translation of dance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dance for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about dance

Comments on dance

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