syncopated ballroom dance, 1913 (the year it became a rage in Britain and America), from Argentine Spanish tango, originally the name of an African-South American drum dance, probably from a Niger-Congo language (compare Ibibio tamgu "to dance"). Phrase it takes two to tango was a song title from 1952. As a verb from 1913. Related: Tangoed.
ON DANCING (NOTE.—Dancing is pronounced two ways,—Tahn-go, or Tan-go. depending on your social status.) [The Gargoyle, University of Michigan, November 1913]
It is hardly a year ago since the Tango reached this country from South America by way of Paris. It was at first no more than a music-hall freak. But some of those mysterious people who inspire new social fashions were attracted by its sinuous movements and the strange backward kick, and this year it made its way into private houses as well as public ball rooms. [The Living Age, Dec. 13, 1913]
"I need not describe the various horrors of American and South American negroid origin. I would only ask hostesses to let one know what houses to avoid by indicating in some way on their invitation cards whether the 'turkey-trot,' the 'Boston' (the beginner of the evil), and the 'tango' will be permitted." [quoted in Current Opinion, October 1913, as from a letter to the London Times]
Old English ta "toe" (plural tan), contraction of *tahe (Mercian tahæ), from Proto-Germanic *taihwō(n) (source also of Old Norse ta, Old Frisian tane, Middle Dutch te, Dutch teen (perhaps originally a plural), Old High German zecha, German Zehe "toe"). Perhaps originally meaning "fingers" as well (many PIE languages still use one word to mean both fingers and toes), and thus from PIE root *deik- "to show."
Þo stode hii I-armed fram heued to þe ton. [Robert of Gloucester, "Chronicle," c. 1300]
The old plural survived regionally into Middle English as tan, ton. To be on (one's) toes "alert, eager" is recorded from 1921. To step on (someone's) toes in the figurative sense "give offense" is from late 14c. Toe-hold "support for the toe of a boot in climbing" is from 1880.
European plant growing parasitically on certain trees, Old English mistiltan, from mistel "mistletoe" (see missel) + tan "twig," from Proto-Germanic *tainan "twig" (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian ten, Old Norse teinn, Dutch teen, Old High German zein, Gothic tains "twig"). Similar formation in Old Norse mistilteinn, Norwegian misteltein, Danish mistelten.
Venerated by the Druids, especially when found growing on the oak, which it seldom does; the custom of hanging it at Christmas and kissing under it is mentioned by Washington Irving. The alteration of the ending according to Century Dictionary is perhaps from a mistaking of the final -n for a plural suffix after tan fell from use as a separate word, but OED finds it a natural evolution in West Saxon based on stress.
by 1886 in American English in reference to a type of hound bred in the South, with a red or red and tan coat, used especially to hunt raccoons and fugitives. The name probably has some connection to the term Redbone as used in 19c. southern U.S. to denote a mulatto or mixed-race culture.
The Redbone is one of the old-time strains; confined exclusively to the Southern States. The "native" Birdsong, Georgia, Virginia, and Kentucky Hounds were undoubtedly the Redbone strain before the introduction of the various crosses previously mentioned. They were a slow, painstaking Hound, with superior nose and splendid mouth, without speed. [Gen. Roger D. Williams, "The American Foxhound," in "Dogs," New York: 1907]
in reference to a type of northern Indian and Pakistani cooking using a charcoal-fired clay oven, 1958, from adjectival form of Urdu or Punjabi tandur "cooking stove," a regional word of uncertain origin. As a noun by 1969.
Greek Tantalos, ancient mythical king of Phrygia, a name of uncertain origin, perhaps literally "the Bearer" or "the Sufferer," by dissimilation from *tal-talos, a reduplication of PIE root *tele- "to bear, carry, support" (see extol), in reference to his long endurance, but Watkins finds this "unlikely" and Beekes writes that "An IE interpretation is most improbable." Compare tantalize.