[tang-guh ld]
See more synonyms for tangled on Thesaurus.com
  1. snarled, interlaced, or mixed up: tangled thread.
  2. very complicated, intricate, or involved: tangled bureaucratic procedures.

Origin of tangled

First recorded in 1580–90; tangle1 + -ed2


verb (used with object), tan·gled, tan·gling.
  1. to bring together into a mass of confusedly interlaced or intertwisted threads, strands, or other like parts; snarl.
  2. to involve in something that hampers, obstructs, or overgrows: The bushes were tangled with vines.
  3. to catch and hold in or as if in a net or snare.
verb (used without object), tan·gled, tan·gling.
  1. to be or become tangled.
  2. Informal. to come into conflict; fight or argue: I don't want to tangle with him over the new ruling.
  1. a tangled condition or situation.
  2. a tangled or confused mass or assemblage of something.
  3. a confused jumble: a tangle of contradictory statements.
  4. Informal. a conflict; disagreement: He got into a tangle with the governor.

Origin of tangle

1300–50; Middle English tangilen, tagilen to entangle < Scandinavian; compare Swedish (dial.) taggla to disarrange
Related formstan·gle·ment, nountan·gler, nountan·gly, adverb

Synonyms for tangle

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tangled

Contemporary Examples of tangled

Historical Examples of tangled

  • "Aaron Goldschmidt," he whispered, as we descended into a dry, tangled swamp.

    The Cavalier

    George Washington Cable

  • The last I saw of the trenches was the tangled line on Fusilier Bluff.

  • If he hadn't been tangled up in his cod line, so we could haul him up by that, he'd have been down yet.

    Cape Cod Stories

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • It is unnecessary to repeat the whole of the long and tangled conversation that ensued.

    Cap'n Eri

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • My life has been one long error, and the threads of my fate have been tangled.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

British Dictionary definitions for tangled


  1. a confused or complicated mass of hairs, lines, fibres, etc, knotted or coiled together
  2. a complicated problem, condition, or situation
  1. to become or cause to become twisted together in a confused mass
  2. (intr often foll by with) to come into conflict; contendto tangle with the police
  3. (tr) to involve in matters which hinder or confuseto tangle someone in a shady deal
  4. (tr) to ensnare or trap, as in a net
Derived Formstanglement, nountangler, nountangly, adjective

Word Origin for tangle

C14 tangilen, variant of tagilen, probably of Scandinavian origin; related to Swedish dialect taggla to entangle



tangle weed

  1. alternative names (esp Scot) for oarweed

Word Origin for tangle

C16: of Scandinavian origin: compare Danish tang seaweed
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 tangled



mid-14c., nasalized variant of tagilen "to involve in a difficult situation, entangle," from a Scandinavian source (cf. dialectal Swedish taggla "to disorder," Old Norse þongull "seaweed"). In reference to material things, from c.1500. Meaning "to fight with" is American English, first recorded 1928. Related: Tangled; tangling. Tanglefoot (1859) was Western American English slang for "strong whiskey."



1610s, "a tangled condition," from tangle (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper