• A pair of moving parts in which one part follows the action of the other, such as tandem rollers.
  • A vehicle made up of two units attached to one another, as the cab and trailer of a truck.



  • adjective describes sports activities undertaken by two people together, usually positioned one behind the other, especially when one person is a novice
  • noun a bicycle with two saddles and two sets of handlebars and pedals, one behind the other, so that it can be ridden by two people at the same time

Origin & History of “tandem”

Latin tandem meant ‘eventually, at length’. Its use for ‘acting conjointly’ arose from an 18th-century play on words, in which ‘at length’ was jocularly interpreted as ‘lengthwise, in a straight line’, and the word was applied to a ‘carriage drawn by two horses one behind the other in a straight line’. In the 1880s it was transferred to a ‘bicycle with two seats, one behind the other’. Its more general modern use, for ‘acting together’, dates from the early 20th century.