Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To mix together or intertwine in a confused mass; snarl.
  • transitive v. To involve in hampering or awkward complications; entangle.
  • transitive v. To catch and hold in or as if in a net; entrap. See Synonyms at catch.
  • intransitive v. To be or become entangled.
  • intransitive v. Informal To enter into argument, dispute, or conflict: tangled with the law.
  • n. A confused, intertwined mass.
  • n. A jumbled or confused state or condition.
  • n. A state of bewilderment.
  • n. Informal An argument or altercation.
  • n. A large seaweed of the genus Laminaria.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to become mixed together or intertwined
  • v. to be forced into some kind of situation
  • v. to enter into an argument, conflict, dispute, or fight
  • v. to mix together or intertwine
  • v. to catch and hold
  • n. a tangled twisted mass
  • n. a complicated or confused state or condition
  • n. an argument, conflict, dispute, or fight
  • n. A region of the projection of a knot such that the knot crosses its perimeter exactly four times.
  • n. Any large type of seaweed, especially a species of Laminaria.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To unite or knit together confusedly; to interweave or interlock, as threads, so as to make it difficult to unravel the knot; to entangle; to ravel.
  • transitive v. To involve; to insnare; to entrap.
  • intransitive v. To be entangled or united confusedly; to get in a tangle.
  • n. Any large blackish seaweed, especially the Laminaria saccharina. See kelp.
  • n. A knot of threads, or other thing, united confusedly, or so interwoven as not to be easily disengaged; a snarl
  • n. An instrument consisting essentially of an iron bar to which are attached swabs, or bundles of frayed rope, or other similar substances, -- used to capture starfishes, sea urchins, and other similar creatures living at the bottom of the sea.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A name of various large species of seaweed, especially Laminaria digitata and L. saccharina. See cut under seaweed. Also called tangle-wrack and hanger.
  • n. A tall, lank person; any long dangling thing.
  • To unite or knit together confusedly; interweave or interlace, as threads, so as to make it difficult to separate them; snarl.
  • To catch or involve as in a snarl; entrap; entangle.
  • To embroil; embarrass; confuse; perplex; involve; complicate.
  • Synonyms To entangle, intertwine, snarl (up).
  • To be entangled or united confusedly.
  • n. A snarl of threads or other things united confusedly, or so interwoven as not to be easily disengaged.
  • n. A device used in dredging, for sweeping the sea-bed in order to obtain delicate forms of marine life, too small or frangible to be obtained by ordinary dredging.
  • n. A perplexity or embarrassment; a complication.
  • Froward; peevish.

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

  • v. force into some kind of situation, condition, or course of action
  • v. disarrange or rumple; dishevel
  • n. something jumbled or confused
  • n. a twisted and tangled mass that is highly interwoven
  • v. tangle or complicate
  • v. twist together or entwine into a confusing mass

Etymologies

Middle English tangilen, to involve in an embarrassing situation, variant of tagilen, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Swedish dialectal taggla, to entangle.
Of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse thöngull, seaweed.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Origin uncertain; apparently a variant form of tagle. (Wiktionary)
Of Scandinavian origin; compare Norwegian tongul, Faroese tongul, Icelandic þöngull. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The best way to make sense of this legal tangle is to mouse over the title of an individual scandal, which will highlight everyone implicated.

    Complete Interactive Guide to Bush and his Crimes | Disinformation

  • Francois was surprised, too, when they shot out in a tangle from the disrupted nest and he divined the cause of the trouble.

    Chapter 3

  • Of course I know what the tangle is in the world for, as well as anybody else.

    Parables From Nature

  • I don't speak of myself alone, though of course I know one very sufficient reason why the tangle is in the world, if I chose to say.

    Parables From Nature

  • Adding to the tangle is a lawsuit filed last week in Delaware state court, in which a more-junior investor, Eastern Property Fund, is seeking to block the Paulson-Winthrop group from foreclosing, given that such an action would wipe out Eastern's investment.

    Ownership of CNL Resorts at Stake

  • Eighth, we should make sure that learning is available for a lifetime by transforming what can only be described as a tangle of federal training programs into a simple skill grant that goes directly to workers.

    President To American Council On Education

  • The tangle was a highly successful type of tree, and some of them formed wells whose rims were fashioned from buried bones of past prey.

    A Spell For Chameleon

  • There in the midst of the tangle was a big black touring-car.

    The Girl and The Bill An American Story of Mystery, Romance and Adventure

  • "The tangle is a shocking one -- lies, lies everywhere, and in the places where they were least to be expected."

    The Snare

  • But somehow the exhausting effort of gathering and labelling the tangle of equipment that litters my living room floor has given me insights I would never have summoned otherwise. h4 class="regseriflbl large"More related to this story

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