tan·​go | \ ˈtaŋ-(ˌ)gō How to pronounce tango (audio) \
plural tangos

Definition of tango

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a ballroom dance of Latin American origin in ²/₄ time with a basic pattern of step-step-step-step-close and characterized by long pauses and stylized body positions also : the music for this dance
2 : interaction marked by a lack of straightforwardness the suspect's tango with police


tangoed; tangoing; tangos

Definition of tango (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to dance the tango


communications code word

Definition of Tango (Entry 3 of 3)

used as a code word for the letter t

Examples of tango in a Sentence


The band played a tango.


He's trying to learn how to tango.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Traditional Chinese dancers celebrated the Year of the Pig, while tango dancers paid homage to Rano’s Argentine heritage. Marshall Heyman, Town & Country, "Michael Chow's Totally Over-the-Top Wedding Was L.A.'s Hottest Event," 27 Apr. 2019 From the American waltz to the Argentine tango, instructor Roberto Munoz and student Tom Doukas shared the histories of the popular dance styles. F. Amanda Tugade, chicagotribune.com, "The Longest Day: Dance event at Belmont Village in Oak Park raises funds in fight against Alzheimer's," 25 June 2018 The first five weeks bristled with listener-friendly new music, fresh young performers, diverse older ones, jazz, tango and even contemporary music by Chinese-American composers. Brett Campbell, WSJ, "Oregon’s Freshened Festival," 24 July 2018 The tangerine tango and mojito lime flavors — all aspartame-free — will make your evening commute feel slightly more tropical. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The 8 Best Breath Mints to Carry Around With You All Day," 7 Dec. 2018 Will the sellers of caftans and turmeric make a profit even after the inevitable bargaining tango? Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "How Moroccan Rugs Are Made: Weaving With Women in the Atlas Mountains," 19 Nov. 2018 Better start practicing your Expelliarmus tango and your Wingardium Leviosa waltz, because one of your favorite Harry Potter actors has joined Dancing With the Stars. Devon Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, ""Harry Potter" Star Evanna Lynch Joins "Dancing With the Stars" Season 27," 12 Sep. 2018 Unlike most ballroom dancing, Argentine tango is almost completely improvised. Savannah Eadens, chicagotribune.com, "Windy City Tango Festival brings world-champion dancers to Lakeview this weekend," 5 July 2018 And Gustavo is a Steinway artist and a three-time Latin Grammy nominee for his tango compositions. Patrick Neas, kansascity, "Bachathon makes an early appearance in a new venue this year | The Kansas City Star," 13 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Trump's simplistic desire to tango with Putin appears to be permanently on hold, thanks to the concrete realities of geopolitics. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Trump’s good cop-bad cop routine with Russia is looking untenable," 30 Mar. 2018 The Roadster won’t have a chance to tango with Earth until its first close encounter in 2091. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, "Tesla Roadster Has Six Percent Chance of Crashing to Earth in the Next Million Years," 17 Feb. 2018 But the 13-term Republican, who tangoed with both President Obama and the insurgent Tea Party, is no longer holding back his thoughts on several conservative media figures. Rob Tornoe, Philly.com, "Former top Republican John Boehner unloads on 'idiot' Sean Hannity," 30 Oct. 2017 West and Oconomowoc will tango Oct. 28 with a state berth on the line in Watertown. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Pewaukee girls volleyball team stuns No. 1-ranked Kettle Moraine Lutheran in sectional," 27 Oct. 2017 Fall is prime time for deer-car collisions in the U.S. and in Kentucky, motorists are more than likely to tango with Bambi. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "Deer vs. cars: What you need to know this fall," 5 Oct. 2017 But, as is the norm when Hollywood tangos with science, the science stumbled in translation to the screen. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Storm chasers honor ‘Twister’ star Bill Paxton," 27 Feb. 2017 But who would want to tango with Legere, the wireless industry’s rock-star CEO? Tamara Chuang, The Denver Post, "Heard at CES 2017: T-Mobile’s CEO disses Dish during CES media event," 5 Jan. 2017 That presumably entails support from the International Monetary Fund, with whom Mr. Macri and his entourage also tangoed in Davos. Rob Cox, New York Times, "Argentina and Aramco Are Deals for Difficult Times," 26 Jan. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tango.' 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 tango


1913, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1913, in the meaning defined above

Communications code word

1952, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tango


American Spanish

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Dictionary Entries near tango

tangle with







Statistics for tango

Last Updated

11 May 2019

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Time Traveler for tango

The first known use of tango was in 1913

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More Definitions for tango



English Language Learners Definition of tango

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a Latin-American dance in which couples make long pauses in difficult positions also : the music used for this dance



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

: to dance the tango

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More from Merriam-Webster on tango

Spanish Central: Translation of tango

Nglish: Translation of tango for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tango

Comments on tango

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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