What does the idiom "It takes two to tango" mean?

It takes two to tango is an idiom used by many writers. When idioms are used in the right place, they open the doors of effective communication and increase your descriptive power. In this way, you will be better understood. The meaning of the expression It takes two to tango is also remarkable in this respect.

Meaning of "It takes two to tango"


The phrase ‘It takes two to tango’ is commonly used to express the idea that a particular situation or disagreement requires the participation of two people in order for it to happen or be resolved. Essentially, this expression serves as an acknowledgment of the mutual responsibility the parties have in making things happen.


The origins of this popular idiom are uncertain, though some sources attribute the phrase to anonymous Argentinians of the 1930s, who coined the phrase to describe the need for two people to be able to complete the traditional Argentine dance called the tango. The phrase is also believed to come from a popular American song and dance of the same name released in the early 1950s by singer and songwriter Ethel Merman. In any case, ‘it takes two to tango’ has been in use in the English language since the 1950s.


The phrase ‘it takes two to tango’ is most commonly used in the context of romantic relationships in order to express the idea that it takes two people working together in order to make the relationship work. However, the phrase can also be used more generally to express the idea that two people need to be involved in order for anything to happen. This can range from having two people actively cooperate in order to achieve a specific goal to the idea that two people need to be working collaboratively in order for something to be resolved.

Example Sentences

  • It takes two to tango when it comes to resolving this conflict. Both parties must be willing to compromise in order to reach an agreement.
  • In this relationship, it takes two to tango. You both need to be willing to show respect and understanding in order to make it work.

The meanings of the words in the "It takes two to tango" idiom

The universal role of idioms

"Kill two birds with one stone" is an English idiom that means to accomplish two things with a single action. In French, the similar idiom is "Faire d'une pierre deux coups," which translates to "To kill two birds with one stone." This idiom highlights the efficiency of completing two tasks with one action.


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