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

Noun The band played a tango. Verb He's trying to learn how to tango.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Before getting the boot in the show’s ninth week, Spicer, 48, and his temporary partner Jenna Johnson performed an Argentine tango and a foxtrot. Lynette Rice, EW.com, "Sean Spicer is (finally) eliminated from Dancing With the Stars," 12 Nov. 2019 The concert features the autumnal D minor Suite, as well as Golijov’s, Omaramour and the tangos and music of Carlos Gardel. courant.com, "Community News For The Windsor Edition," 19 Sep. 2019 But just a few months before his 100th birthday, his friends gave him a plane ticket to the birthplace of tango. Washington Post, "99-year-old grabs spotlight at Argentine Tango championship," 21 Aug. 2019 What used to be a tango between the doctor and patient is now a troika. Danielle Ofri, STAT, "The EMR has changed the doctor-patient duet into a ménage-à-trois," 31 Oct. 2019 Quinteto Astor Piazzolla This tango ensemble founded by the late Argentine composer performs. Matt Cooper, Los Angeles Times, "Classical music in L.A. this week: ‘Game of Thrones’ and more," 29 Sep. 2019 The imagery includes a conductor waving his baton, violinists putting their bows to good use, a pair of tango dancers. Matthew J. Palm, orlandosentinel.com, "Epcot’s ‘IllumiNations’: a stirring tribute to the arts," 29 Sep. 2019 Also enjoy field-side tango dancing, cultural performances, a Canine Couture Dog Fashion Show and much more. Alison Stanton, azcentral, "The best fall festivals around Phoenix in 2019: Oktoberfest, Day of the Dead, art and more," 12 Sep. 2019 This week’s gallery includes twins participating in a tango world championship in Argentina; a robot staffing a box office in Tokyo; and rugby players lifted into the air during a match in South Africa. Washington Post, "PHOTO GALLERY: A selection of pictures from the past week," 24 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb These queries vividly illustrate a problem that voice assistants are tangoing with today: Although machine learning capabilities are exponentially growing, artificial intelligence still has a difficult time understanding the way people speak. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Amazon Is Crowdsourcing Alexa's Answers, So This Should Be Fun," 26 Sep. 2019 Two to tango Working in the same group, but a few years Maike’s senior, was an Indian ecologist named Smitha Krishnan. Nandita Jayaraj, Quartz India, "The coffee plantations of India’s western ghats are being wrongly blamed for climate change," 4 Sep. 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for tango

Time Traveler

The first known use of tango was in 1913

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Statistics for tango

Last Updated

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Tango.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tango?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=t&file=tango001. Accessed 14 December 2019.

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More Definitions for tango


How to pronounce Tango (audio)

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

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