two to tangle/two to tango
A 1952 pop song popularized the phrase “it takes two to tango”; and it was quickly applied to everything that required two parties, from romance to fighting. Later, people baffled by hearing the phrase used of conflicts, imagined that the proper word must be “tangle.” Perhaps if they had remembered the fierce choreography of Parisian apache dancing they would not have been so confused. “It takes two to tangle” will seem the normal phrase to some people, a clever variation to a few, and an embarrassing mistake to many people you might want to impress.
This is the ten-year anniversary of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.
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