from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To move rhythmically usually to music, using prescribed or improvised steps and gestures.
  • intransitive v. To leap or skip about excitedly.
  • intransitive v. To appear to flash or twinkle: eyes that danced with merriment.
  • intransitive v. Informal To appear to skip about; vacillate: danced around the issue.
  • intransitive v. To bob up and down.
  • transitive v. To engage in or perform (a dance).
  • transitive v. To cause to dance.
  • transitive v. To bring to a particular state or condition by dancing: My partner danced me to exhaustion.
  • n. A series of motions and steps, usually performed to music.
  • n. The art of dancing: studied dance in college.
  • n. A party or gathering of people for dancing; a ball.
  • n. One round or turn of dancing: May I have this dance?
  • n. A musical or rhythmical piece composed or played for dancing.
  • n. The act or an instance of dancing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A sequence of rhythmic steps or movements usually performed to music, for pleasure or as a form of social interaction.
  • n. A social gathering where dancing is designed to take place.
  • n. A fess that has been modified to zig-zag across the center of a coat of arms from dexter to sinister.
  • n. A genre of modern music characterised by sampled beats, repetitive rhythms and few lyrics.
  • n. The art, profession, and study of dancing.
  • v. To move with rhythmic steps or movements, especially in time to music.
  • v. To leap or move lightly and rapidly.
  • v. To perform the steps to.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The leaping, tripping, or measured stepping of one who dances; an amusement, in which the movements of the persons are regulated by art, in figures and in accord with music.
  • n. A tune by which dancing is regulated, as the minuet, the waltz, the cotillon, etc.
  • intransitive v. To move with measured steps, or to a musical accompaniment; to go through, either alone or in company with others, with a regulated succession of movements, (commonly) to the sound of music; to trip or leap rhythmically.
  • intransitive v. To move nimbly or merrily; to express pleasure by motion; to caper; to frisk; to skip about.
  • transitive v. To cause to dance, or move nimbly or merrily about, or up and down; to dandle.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To leap or spring with regular or irregular steps, as an expression of some emotion; move or act quiveringly from excitement: as, he danced with joy.
  • To move nimbly or quickly with an irregular leaping motion; bound up and down: as, the blow he gave the table made the dishes dance; the mote dancing in the sunbeam.
  • To move the body or the feet rhythmically to music, either by one's self or with a partner or in a set; perform the series of cadenced steps and rhythmic movements which constitute a dance; engage or take part in a dance.
  • To give a dancing motion to; cause to move up and down with a jerky, irregular motion; dandle.
  • To perform or take part in as a dancer; execute, or take part in executing, the cadenced steps or regulated movements which constitute (some particular dance): as, to dance a quadrille or a hornpipe.
  • To lead or conduct with a tripping, dancing movement.
  • In the West Indies, especially Trinidad, to clean and polish (cacao) by treading it with the naked feet. The friction caused by the treading removes the mildew from the outside of the beans and at the same time polishes them.
  • n. A succession of more or less regularly ordered steps and movements of the body, commonly guided by the rhythmical intervals of a musical accompaniment; any leaping or gliding movement with more or less regular steps and turnings, expressive of or designed to awaken some emotion.
  • n. A tune by which dancing is regulated, as the minuet, the waltz, the cotillion, etc.
  • n. A dancing-party; a ball; a “hop.”
  • n. Figuratively, progressive or strenuous movement of any kind; a striving or struggling motion: often used by old writers in a sarcastic sense, especially in the phrases the new daunce, the old daunce.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an artistic form of nonverbal communication
  • n. taking a series of rhythmical steps (and movements) in time to music
  • v. move in a graceful and rhythmical way
  • v. move in a pattern; usually to musical accompaniment; do or perform a dance
  • n. a party for social dancing
  • v. skip, leap, or move up and down or sideways
  • n. a party of people assembled for dancing


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English dauncen, from Old French danser, perhaps of Germanic origin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English daunsen, from Anglo-Norman dancer, dauncer ("to dance") (compare Old French dancier), from Frankish *dansōn (“to draw, to pull, to gesture”)(compare Old High German dansōn ("to draw, pull")), from *dinsan (compare Old Dutch þinsan ("to move, to tear"), Old High German dinsan ("to draw out"), Gothic 𐌸𐌹𐌽𐍃𐌰𐌽 (þinsan, "to drag, draw, pull"), from Proto-Germanic *þansōnan (“to stretch out”), from Proto-Germanic *þinsanan (“to stretch”), from Proto-Indo-European *ten-s, *tenw(ə)- (“to :”). See thin.



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  • "Bette Viner was lucky enough to be invited to visit the harem of a local Amir when she was living in Aden in the mid-1960s with her brigadier husband. ... But with very few words of common language between them conversation was difficult, and the encounter grew stilted. It was then that Mrs Viner's American friend Olga came to the rescue.

    "'She shot to her feet saying, "Gee, I reckon they like to dance." She executed a few gay little steps in the middle of a large Persian rug and fortunately they got the message almost at once. One of the women ducked under an old brass bedstead at the far end of the room and produced an old gramophone with an enormous horn, also some Arabian and Hungarian (Heaven knows how they came to be there) records. Olga jived energetically and was rewarded with a belly dance from an immensely fat servant. I was called upon to perform a short ballet sequence and a young concubine retaliated with a passage from a sinuously seductive looking tribal dance. Our British lady friend flatly refused to make a fool of herself as a solo turn but did condescend to lead a conga round the harem. Everyone joined in except the Amir's wife who remained faithful to her tea kettle, but she smiled happily on us all. The women quickly found out how it was done and shouted and laughed and turned the music up louder and louder. When it was finally time to go the Amir's wife gave us each a gourd of local honey. Our Arab driver, waiting at a distance of about 100 yards, was grinning from ear to ear when he saw us and I realised with horror that the noise we had made must have burst through the slits in the walls in the harem and resounded across the desert.... when I met the Amir a few days later, and he told me that his family had enjoyed our visit very much indeed....'"

    —Annabel Venning, Following the Drum: The Lives of Army Wives and Daughters Past and Present (London: Headline, 2005), 196–197

    May 11, 2010

  • Interesting usage (to me, anyway) on nomos.

    March 12, 2009

  • Listen, child, to a wise old wolf:

    in dance everything has its own meaning.

    Here we've stopped--

    we haven't touched,

    yet our breath dances in a common rhythm,

    always stronger and faster.

    - Marjana Savka from 'A Short History of Dance', translated from the Ukrainian by Askold Melnyczuk.

    November 10, 2008

  • "Dances of any sort were rarely held, and social events seemed to revolve around the vigorous manipulation of vegetable matter—there were flax pullings, wood choppings, apple parings, pumpkin cuttings, and corn huskings. 'Courtin' or keepin' company was an informal proceeding and a universal custom,' Jesse Birch writes in History of Benton County and Historic Oxford, 'yet a flirt was soon found out and given the mitten.'"

    —Charles Leerhsen, Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch (New York and London: Simon & Schuster, 2008), 80

    October 23, 2008