\ 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

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of dance in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun 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 But now Musk is on a roll, literally dancing his way forward past a thicket of controversies. Faiz Siddiqui, Washington Post, "How Elon Musk went from sleeping in the factory to being on the cusp of launching a crew into space," 21 Feb. 2020 The kids and audience erupted as Diddy danced his way over to greet the group. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs surprises kids battling cancer on 'Ellen' in heartwarming segment," 20 Feb. 2020 Some, such as Deveaux, featured not only singers but also dancing models and a drumline. Ray A. Smith, WSJ, "New York Fashion Week Faces Designer Exits, Oscars Competition," 3 Feb. 2020 At the football game on Friday night, the 21 cheerleaders chant and dance energetically even as Bowie gets badly beaten by a rival team. National Geographic, "This cheer squad is caught between two worlds—divided by a border," 30 Jan. 2020 Once the contestant caught their breath after dancing, the two would then guess who was behind the mask. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "'The Masked Dancer' Already Sounds WAY More Crazy Than 'The Masked Singer'," 20 Jan. 2020 His playing is clean, fast and fluid, as brilliantly showcased last year in a Form Arcosanti performance with his world-music trio that had the crowd singing along in African at one point and dancing wildly. Ed Masley, azcentral, "Concerts coming to Phoenix in January, from Tool to Roddy Ricch, G-Eazy and Dierks Bentley," 31 Dec. 2019 Young women on streetcorners bring out sitars and synthesizers and big wooden drums, the better to get the crowd dancing the young men’s way. Jason Kehe, Wired, "The 20 Best Books of a Decade That Unmade Genre Fiction," 29 Dec. 2019 Longoria wrote in the caption as her son danced on his feet by a Christmas tree. Alexia Fernandez,, "Eva Longoria Shares Video of Son Dancing to Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas Is You'," 24 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If its orbit spirals any closer, the two will engage in a death dance that will lead to the planet's end. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "A year on this exoplanet only takes 18 hours. And it might be doomed," 20 Feb. 2020 Austin is a specialist in African dance, music and performance and belongs to the Central States Judges Association and Drum Core International. Talis Shelbourne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'We Are The Drum' production, a celebration of black history, will showcase Milwaukee talent," 14 Feb. 2020 Afterward, go back inside for an epic dance party. Luann Gibbs,, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: Feb. 10-16," 10 Feb. 2020 What’s more, Kristen, Jabari and cast mate Mary Rose Tamburrino, of Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin High School, were recognized by judges for their excellence in dance. cleveland, "Mercury Theatre Co. Junior troupe wins big on national stage," 6 Feb. 2020 The ships will feature background music catered to each specific space, plus an on-board record store and tons of dance parties. Caitlin Morton, Condé Nast Traveler, "You Can Book a Cruise With Mark Ronson and Diplo on Virgin Voyages," 28 Jan. 2020 Little details to savor include his playful 16th-note riffs in the dance-like C Major Intermezzo of Opus 119. Barbara Jepson, WSJ, "Three Classical Recordings Shadowed by Death," 27 Jan. 2020 The reception was followed by a dance party with lots and lots of disco. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "The Bride Wore Alexander Wang—and 5 Other Looks—at This “Island Formal” Wedding at The Rockhouse in Jamaica," 24 Jan. 2020 If indeed the supermassive black hole has a friend revolving around it in close orbit, the center of the galaxy is locked in a complex dance. Smadar Naoz, The Conversation, "Supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy may have a friend," 12 Dec. 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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Time Traveler for dance

Time Traveler

The first known use of dance was in the 14th century

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Statistics for dance

Last Updated

24 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for dance


How to pronounce dance (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dance

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

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