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 But this pursuit caused the moon to accelerate, upsetting its tango with the planet. Robin George Andrews, National Geographic, "The moon may have stretched early Earth into a potato shape," 15 Apr. 2020 Hayes learned that the contractor had used one room for tango dancing on the side, which explained its shiny wood floors, red curtains staple-gunned to the wall and sparkling chandeliers overhead. Carolyne Zinko, San Francisco Chronicle, "Pilates transforms a life — and MNT Studio in S.F.," 22 Jan. 2018 Now, new research suggests that the toxic tango between the rough-skinned newt and its serpent predator may have a third participant: bacteria living on the newt’s skin, according to a new study published in the journal eLife. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Toxic Newts Use Bacteria to Become Deadly Prey," 23 Apr. 2020 Sean earned a total of 50 out of 80 points for his Foxtrot and Argentine tango. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Dancing With the Stars' Fans EXPLODED Over Sean Spicer’s Elimination Last Night," 12 Nov. 2019 Here are the deets. 2 SEE: Two beloved dance troupes, plus tango! Jackie Burrell, The Mercury News, "7 amazing Bay Area things to do this weekend, Sept. 20-22," 19 Sep. 2019 Expect generous cuts of steak, endless red wine, sultry late-night groove sessions at the milongas (tango halls) and an influx of tourists. Lindsay Cohn, USA TODAY, "20 warm-weather destinations to visit this winter if you just can't take the cold anymore," 5 Dec. 2019 But it’s choreographer Jessica Redish who supplies the show’s crucial aesthetic touches, filling the competitors’ onstage sequences with leaps, sashays, punk tantrums and tango pivots. Celia Wren, Washington Post, "In ‘Airness,’ the axes are invisible but the play is loud," 19 Nov. 2019 As with most traditional forms, including ballet and tango, the technique of flamenco has historically been taught with different nuances for men and women. Marina Harss, New York Times, "Flamenco Dancers Who ‘Move Between Genders’," 17 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Meanwhile, Greens pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm was all but matching Smoltz in excellence, though with pitches that tangoed more than darted. Dan Barry, New York Times, "Baseball Season Opens With a Dash of Imagination," 26 Mar. 2020 Democrats have been as willing as Republicans to tango with the rent-reaping lounge lizards. Washington Post, "The Democrats Are Moving Left. Will America Follow?," 12 Nov. 2019 Billy Crudup, as the news executive Cory Ellison, represents one version of the show, playing his character as a full-bore Chaos Muppet with tangoing eyebrows and irresistible Machiavellian energy. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "What Went Wrong With The Morning Show?," 21 Dec. 2019 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

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

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tango.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tango. Accessed 6 Jun. 2020.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tango

Spanish Central: Translation of tango

Nglish: Translation of tango for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tango

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