The video shows how the protesters tangled with each other in the demo.

Nightowll

Senior Member
Italian
Context: There is a video showing protesters in a demo. At some point they became uncontrollable and began fighting amongst themselves.

The video shows how the protesters tangled with each other in the demo.

The video shows how the protesters fought each other in the demo.

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, tangle with somebody means to become involved with someone, usually by arguing or fighting with them. Is "tangle with" synonymous with "fight" in the sentence above? Are they interchangeable?
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    To tangle does not sound very idiomatic in your sentence.

    I agree with the Cambridge English Dictionary: To tangle means to involve oneself in an altercation of some sort, it rarely involves any hard violence - usually shouting at each other, perhaps some pushing and shoving, and the occasional wrestling or throwing the odd punch, i.e. low-level aggression.

    Tangle certainly does not mean "fight" - fight is far too strong.

    I'm not sure that everyone will agree, but, to me, "tangle" usually involves only two people and "the protesters tangled with each other in the demo" seems to imply that a lot of them were doing this and I would not use "tangle."
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    In AE "tangle with" can mean two people or two groups. But it cannot mean "amongst themselves".

    The protestors tangled with the police.:tick:

    in the demo.
    I've never heard "demo" used this way. A "demo" is a sample of a product, used to demonstrate the product's features.

    One of the meanings of "a demonstration" is a planned public protest march, but I don't think "demo" can be used with that meaning. If it can, I have never seen it.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I wouldn't use use "tangled" there, either: I think "scuffled" is more idiomatic (and "with each other" is a bit redundant there, too).
    I've never heard "demo" used this way. A "demo" is a sample of a product, used to demonstrate the product's features.

    One of the meanings of "a demonstration" is a planned public protest march, but I don't think "demo" can be used with that meaning. If it can, I have never seen it.
    That use of "demo" is absolutely fine in BE. ;)
     

    Nightowll

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you! :)

    The video shows how the protesters scuffled in the demo.

    The video shows how the protesters scuffled in the demonstration.
     

    Nightowll

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thanks! :)

    On the first page of Google Search, I found these phrases that included "tangle with."
    climate change protesters tangle with police
    Cameroon protesters tangle with school children
    anti-Trump protesters tangle with drivers
    police tangle with protesters
    counter-protesters tangle with conservatives
    protesters tangle with Ferguson police

    It seems "tangle with" is used to describe the conflict between two opposing forces. As PaulQ and dojibear pointed out, it may not be appropriate to use "tangle with" to describe the conflict between random people, though I'm not sure.
     
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