Takes Two to Tango – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell someone that you need them for a specific task? You could use the phrase “it takes two to tango” to show them your need for their assistance. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

The expression “it takes two to tango” means that it requires more than one party to complete a task. It could refer to more than two people being involved in a crime or a simple miscommunication.

It’s a way of saying that both parties engaged in a situation are responsible and accountable for the outcome.

The saying can have a sensual meaning, like the South American dance, or it can have a sterile meaning where there is no underlying innuendo involved. The expression can also mean that it takes two parties for successful communication.

Example Usage

“So you think you can do this all alone. Well, I have news for you, it takes two to tango, and you’re going to need me for this.”

“It takes two to tango. You’re telling me he did all of this without an accomplice, and you were tied up all the time?”

“There’s no way I can manage this by myself. It takes two to tango, and without you, I’m left hopeless.”

“It’s not right for us to blame the affair on Martha alone. There are always two sides to a story, and it takes two to tango in any relationship.”

“Don’t blame me for shouting at you; it takes two to tango, and you’ve been raising your voice the whole time.”

“Listen, we’re never going to reach an agreement unless we sit down and talk things out. It takes two to tango, and both parties have to be willing in the dance.”

“You can’t go out there alone, it takes two to tango, and any idiot can tell you that. Wait for them to arrive before you start making rash decisions regarding your safety.”

“It takes two to tango, and with the Republicans and the Democrats going at each other’s throats over almost everything, it’s doubtful they will p[ass the bill.”

“It takes two to tango, and these idiots are messing things up right now.”

Origin

The expression “takes two to tango” originates from a song released in 1952. Al Hoffman and Dick Manning wrote and performed the song “Takes Two to Tango.” It was a cultural success, integrating the saying into popular culture and conversation as a way to say it takes to people to enjoy something.

The “Tango” is a South American dance involving vulnerability, submission, and trust. It requires two partners to perform the dance, and boost must willingly engage with each other to make it work. Several dance competitions use this dance as a qualifier.

Phrases Similar to Takes Two to Tango

  • Bonnie and Clyde.
  • Safety in numbers.

Phrases Opposite to Takes Two to Tango

  • A solo job.
  • The one and only.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Takes two to tango.

Ways People May Say Takes Two to Tango Incorrectly

The phrase has nothing to do with the tango or dancing. The “tango” in the saying refers to an activity that two people need to participate in together to make it work.” The phrase can have positive or negative connotations, depending on the situation.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Takes Two to Tango

You can use the phrase “takes two to tango” when trying to imply that an accomplice is as guilty as the offender. It’s also a way of saying that some things require two people to pull it off. The phrase suits professional and social use.

Use it in the office to tell a colleague how you rely on them to help you do your job and you’re grateful for their help. Use it at home to tell your partner that parenting is a two-person activity, and you’re both responsible for your kid’s well-being.

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