Definition: Dance

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From Middle English dauncen, daunsen, a borrowing from Anglo-Norman dauncer, dancer (to dance) (compare Old French dancier), from Frankish *þansōn (to draw, pull, stretch out, gesture) (compare Old High German dansōn (to draw, pull)), from Proto-West Germanic *þansōn, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *tens- (to stretch, pull). Replaced Old English sealtian (to dance) borrowed from Latin saltāre (to leap, dance).


dance (countable and uncountable, plural dances)

  1. A sequence of rhythmic steps or movements usually performed to music, for pleasure or as a form of social interaction.
    The Twist and the Dooley Walk were two of a long list of dances that emerged in the 1960s.
  2. A social gathering where dancing is the main activity.
    Hundreds of couples attended the Valentine's Day dance.
  3. (uncountable) The art, profession, and study of dancing.
    I'll see you after dance class.
  4. (uncountable) A genre of modern music characterised by sampled beats, repetitive rhythms and few lyrics.
    "Believe" by Cher was one of the biggest dance hits of the late 1990s and is still frequently heard over twenty years later.
  5. A piece of music with a particular dance rhythm.
  6. (figurative) A battle of wits, especially one commonly fought between two rivals.
    So how much longer are we gonna do this dance?

Derived terms

  • barn dance
  • belly dance
  • break dance
  • country dance
  • dance floor
  • dance hall
  • dance music
  • dance-off
  • dancer
  • dance school
  • dance studio
  • electronic dance music
  • folk dance
  • ice dance
  • line dance
  • rain dance
  • slow dance
  • square dance
  • tap dance
  • war dance


dance (third-person singular simple present dances, present participle dancing, simple past and past participle danced)

  1. To move with rhythmic steps or movements, especially in time to music.
    I danced with my wife all night long.
  2. To leap or move lightly and rapidly.
    His eyes danced with pleasure as he spoke.
  3. To perform the steps to.
    Have you ever danced the tango?
  4. To cause to dance, or move nimbly or merrily about.


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