Word of the Day: Tangle


tan-gle / tang-gəl


1. a confused mass of intertwined threads, hair or similar strands; a snarl

Overhead, tangles of wires knotted together in a grand display of unplanned infrastructure.

From “Molly Fyde and the Parsona Recue” by Hugh Howey, 1975 –

2. a confused or complicated state or situation

It is such a comfort to drop the tangles of life into God’s hands and leave them there.

Lettie Cowman, 1870 – 1960

3. an argument or conflict

Meanwhile, the tangle at Dublin was becoming hopeless.

From “William Pitt and the Great War” by John Holland Rose, 1855 – 1942

4. any of several large edible seaweeds of the genus Laminaria, such as kelp

Sea tangle is used frequently and widely across China, Japan, and Korea as a seasoning or dietary ingredient.

www.e-algae.org/journal/view.php?doi=10.4490/algae.2016.31.6.12, accessed August 4, 2023


1. to trap or ensnare in an intertwined, jumbled or confused mass or to become caught in such a mass

They stumbled into wet, boggy places; they got all tangled up in thick convolvulus-runners; they scratched themselves on thorns, and twice they nearly lost the medicine-bag in the under-brush.

From “The Story of Doctor Dolittle” by Hugh Lofting, 1886 – 1947

2. to twist into or create a mass that is not easily separated; to snarl

No matter what she did with her hair it took about three minutes for it to tangle itself up again, like a garden hosepipe in a shed. 

From “Lords and Ladies” by Terry Pratchett, 1948 – 2015

3. to become caught up in a complicated or confusing matter, especially one that it is difficult to escape

Kollias says he believes the Rochester coaching staff knew Smith was tangled up with drugs but chose to look the other way.

Tisha Thompson and Andy Lockett, “I Just Wanted to Survive”, ‘ESPN’, www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/19760676/university-rochester-football-player-kidnapped-tortured-40-hours, June 29, 2017

4. to become involved in a dispute, argument or conflict 

Zaphod did not want to tangle with them and, deciding that just as discretion is the better part of valor, so was cowardice is the better part of discretion, he valiantly hid himself in a closet.

From “The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, 1952 – 2001