English edit

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Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /ˈtæŋ.ɡl̩/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æŋɡəl

Etymology 1 edit

From Middle English tanglen, probably of North Germanic origin, compare Swedish taggla (to disorder), Old Norse þǫngull, þang (tangle; seaweed), see Etymology 2 below.

Verb edit

tangle (third-person singular simple present tangles, present participle tangling, simple past and past participle tangled)

  1. (transitive) To mix together or intertwine.
    Synonyms: entangle, knot, mat, snarl
  2. (intransitive) To become mixed together or intertwined.
    Synonyms: dishevel, tousle
    Antonyms: untangle, unsnarl
    Her hair was tangled from a day in the wind.
    • 1960 March, “The January blizzard in the North-East of Scotland”, in Trains Illustrated, page 137:
      By the afternoon it seemed as if the storm had passed and that frost was setting in; but in the evening the wind rose to gale force, bringing telegraph poles down like skittles and tangling power and telephone lines.
  3. (intransitive, figurative) To enter into an argument, conflict, dispute, or fight.
    Synonyms: argue, conflict, dispute, fight
    Don't tangle with someone three times your size.
    He tangled with the law.
    • 2021 February 3, Drachinifel, 19:47 from the start, in Guadalcanal Campaign - Santa Cruz (IJN 2 : 2 USN)[1], archived from the original on 4 December 2022:
      Compared to the last time they'd tangled with the U.S. Navy's carriers, the antiaircraft fire had been much, much more effective, even if the Wildcats hadn't done particularly well in their intercepts. They couldn't know it, of course, but the officer aboard Enterprise who'd recommended recarpeting the ship with 20-mm Oerlikons had, at least partially, been listened to, and the effect on the Japanese Navy's elite aircrews had been devastating.
    • 2021 August 20, Daisuke Wakabayashi, “Who Gets the L.L.C.? Inside a Silicon Valley Billionaire’s Divorce.”, in The New York Times[2], →ISSN:
      After a few attempts at counseling, they separated in January 2015. Since then, they have tangled in the courts.
  4. (transitive) To catch and hold.
    Synonyms: ensnare, entrap
    • 1671, John Milton, “The First Book”, in Paradise Regain’d. A Poem. In IV Books. To which is Added, Samson Agonistes, London: [] J. M[acock] for John Starkey [], →OCLC, page 2:
      tangled in amorous nets
    • 1646, Richard Crashaw, Steps to the Temple:
      When my simple weakness strays, / Tangled in forbidden ways.
    • 2001, Christine A. Kelly, Tangled Up in Red, White, and Blue: New Social Movements in America, →ISBN:
      This is a book about the potential for the reclamation, reform, and enlightened transformation of the most expansive elements of the liberal tradition— that social and economic justice remain tangled in liberalism's web of pretentious institutions and betrayed promises is the reason for this battle from within.
    • 2004, Eve Ikuenobe-Otaigbe, Tangled, →ISBN, page 80:
      He spent the night at a friend's place unable to sleep and wondering how he got himself tangled in this mess.
    • 2014, Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory, The House of the Four Winds, →ISBN:
      Why else would she have tangled him in spells of illusion to get him to keep her company?
Derived terms edit
Translations edit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Noun edit

tangle (plural tangles)

  1. A tangled twisted mass.
  2. A complicated or confused state or condition.
    I tried to sort through this tangle and got nowhere.
    • 2013 August 3, “Boundary problems”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8847:
      Economics is a messy discipline: too fluid to be a science, too rigorous to be an art. Perhaps it is fitting that economists’ most-used metric, gross domestic product (GDP), is a tangle too. GDP measures the total value of output in an economic territory. Its apparent simplicity explains why it is scrutinised down to tenths of a percentage point every month.
  3. An argument, conflict, dispute, or fight.
  4. (mathematics) A region of the projection of a knot such that the knot crosses its perimeter exactly four times.
  5. (medicine) A paired helical fragment of tau protein found in a nerve cell and associated with Alzheimer's disease.
  6. A form of art which consists of sections filled with repetitive patterns.
Synonyms edit
Derived terms edit
Translations edit

Etymology 2 edit

Of North Germanic origin, such as Danish tang or Swedish tång, from Old Norse þongull, þang. See also Norwegian tongul, Faroese tongul, Icelandic þöngull.

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Noun edit

tangle (countable and uncountable, plural tangles)

  1. Any large type of seaweed, especially a species of Laminaria.
    • 1850, [Alfred, Lord Tennyson], In Memoriam, London: Edward Moxon, [], →OCLC, Canto X:
      […] if with thee the roaring wells
      ⁠Should gulf him fathom-deep in brine;
      ⁠And hands so often clasp’d in mine,
      Should toss with tangle and with shells.
    • 1917, “The Road to the Isles”, in Kenneth Macleod, editor, Songs of the Hebrides:
      You've never smelled the tangle o' the Isles.
  2. (in the plural) 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.
  3. (Scotland) Any long hanging thing, even a lanky person.
Hyponyms edit

Further reading edit

Anagrams edit