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 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 Letting Sean Spicer tango onto prime time this fall is not the largest disgrace of all time. James Poniewozik, New York Times, "Don’t Let Sean Spicer Tap-Dance Out of Infamy on ‘Dancing With the Stars’," 21 Aug. 2019 The tension between cynical-tinged hope and being trapped is fraught for Moses and Kitch and fertile for audiences aching to reckon with the American tango of liberation and subjugation. Barbara Ellis, The Know, "Review: Curious Theatre’s “Pass Over” puts violence against young black men at center stage," 14 Sep. 2019 Turn up the tango playing on the sound system, shove the tables aside and dinner could quickly become dinner and a dance. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "Here are 3 new metro Phoenix restaurants you need to try in September," 6 Sep. 2019 Mothers pushing strollers window shop past Lululemon along Frankford Avenue’s buzzing retail corridor fronted with wine bars, coffee shops, couture boutiques, yoga studios, a vintage motorcycle joint, and an Argentinian tango dance school. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Harm-Reduction Beats Drug War as a Response to Addiction," 6 Sep. 2019 Turn up the tango playing on the sound system, shove the tables aside and dinner could quickly become dinner and a dance. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "Here's what to try at La Esquina Argentina, the East Valley's new Argentinian restaurant," 12 Aug. 2019 Once open, Cafe Sevilla will feature flamenco and tango dancers, as well as a dance space for guests. Daily Pilot, "Biz News: Changes ahead for Costa Mesa’s South Coast Collection," 7 Aug. 2019 Then, at more than the halfway point, the man gets up and begins to perform the tango with two women at the bar. Johnny Diaz, sun-sentinel.com, "Pitbull music video features John Travolta dancing in Miami Beach," 6 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 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

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

12 Oct 2019

Cite this Entry

“Tango.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tangoing. Accessed 22 November 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

Comments on tango

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not agreeing with established beliefs

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