[dans, dahns]

verb (used without object), danced, danc·ing.

verb (used with object), danced, danc·ing.



    dance attendance. attendance(def 3).
    dance on air, Slang. to be hanged.
    dance to another tune, to change one's behavior, attitudes, etc.

Origin of dance

1250–1300; (v.) Middle English da(u)ncen < Anglo-French dancer, dauncer, Old French dancier, perhaps < Old High German *dansjan to lead (someone) to a dance; (noun) Middle English da(u)nce < Anglo-French; Old French dance, derivative of dancier
Related formsdanc·ing·ly, adverban·ti·danc·ing, adjectiveout·dance, verb (used with object), out·danced, out·danc·ing.un·danc·ing, adjectivewell-danced, adjective

Synonyms for dance Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dancing

Contemporary Examples of dancing

Historical Examples of dancing

  • Papa used to think that she had no talent for anything but dancing.

  • It came in a most casual voice, despite the dancing delight in her face.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Earlier in the evening there had been a Big Eating at Opata's, and now the men were dancing.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • "It was good Medicine, too," spoke up the oldest of the dancing women.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • At the last there were left three men and the dancing women.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

British Dictionary definitions for dancing



(intr) to move the feet and body rhythmically, esp in time to music
(tr) to perform (a particular dance)
(intr) to skip or leap, as in joy, etc
to move or cause to move in a light rhythmic way
dance attendance on someone to attend someone solicitously or obsequiously


a series of rhythmic steps and movements, usually in time to musicRelated adjective: Terpsichorean
an act of dancing
  1. a social meeting arranged for dancing; ball
  2. (as modifier)a dance hall
a piece of music in the rhythm of a particular dance form, such as a waltz
dancelike movements made by some insects and birds, esp as part of a behaviour pattern
lead someone a dance British informal to cause someone continued worry and exasperation; play up
Derived Formsdanceable, adjectivedancer, noundancing, noun, adjective

Word Origin for dance

C13: from Old French dancier
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for dancing



c.1300, from dance (v.).



c.1300, from Old French dancier (12c., Modern French danser), of unknown origin, perhaps from Low Frankish *dintjan and akin to Old Frisian dintje "tremble, quiver." A word of uncertain origin but which, through French influence in arts and society, has become the primary word for this activity from Spain to Russia (e.g. Italian danzare, Spanish danzar, Rumanian dansa, Swedish dansa, German tanzen).

In part the loanword from French is used mainly with reference to fashionable dancing while the older native word persists in use with reference to folk-dancing, as definitively Russ. pljasat' vs. tancovat' [Buck].

Replaced Old English sealtian, itself a borrowing from Latin saltare "to dance," frequentative of salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.); "dance" words frequently are derived from words meaning "jump, leap"). Related: Danced; dancing.

It is strange, and will, I am sure, appear to my readers almost incredible, that as far as I have ever read, there is no reference that can be identified as containing a clear allusion to dancing in any of our really ancient MS. books. [Eugene O'Curry, "On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish," vol. 2, p.406, 1873]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with dancing


In addition to the idioms beginning with dance

  • dance attendance on
  • dance to another tune

also see:

  • lead a chase (dance)
  • song and dance
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.