[dans, dahns]
See more synonyms for dance on
verb (used without object), danced, danc·ing.
  1. to move one's feet or body, or both, rhythmically in a pattern of steps, especially to the accompaniment of music.
  2. to leap, skip, etc., as from excitement or emotion; move nimbly or quickly: to dance with joy.
  3. to bob up and down: The toy sailboats danced on the pond.
verb (used with object), danced, danc·ing.
  1. to perform or take part in (a dance): to dance a waltz.
  2. to cause to dance: He danced her around the ballroom.
  3. to cause to be in a specified condition by dancing: She danced her way to stardom.
  1. a successive group of rhythmical steps or bodily motions, or both, usually executed to music.
  2. an act or round of dancing; set: May I have this dance?
  3. the art of dancing: to study dance.
  4. a social gathering or party for dancing; ball: Was he invited to the dance?
  5. a piece of music suited in rhythm or style to a particular form of dancing: He liked the composer's country dances.
  6. Animal Behavior. a stylized pattern of movements performed by an animal, as a bird in courtship display, or an insect, as a honeybee in indicating a source of nectar.
  7. the dance, ballet, interpretive dancing, and other dancing of an artistic nature performed by professional dancers before an audience.
  1. dance attendance. attendance(def 3).
  2. dance on air, Slang. to be hanged.
  3. 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

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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


  1. (intr) to move the feet and body rhythmically, esp in time to music
  2. (tr) to perform (a particular dance)
  3. (intr) to skip or leap, as in joy, etc
  4. to move or cause to move in a light rhythmic way
  5. dance attendance on someone to attend someone solicitously or obsequiously
  1. a series of rhythmic steps and movements, usually in time to musicRelated adjective: Terpsichorean
  2. an act of dancing
    1. a social meeting arranged for dancing; ball
    2. (as modifier)a dance hall
  3. a piece of music in the rhythm of a particular dance form, such as a waltz
  4. short for dance music (def. 2)
  5. dancelike movements made by some insects and birds, esp as part of a behaviour pattern
  6. 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.