The White-lined Tanager is stikingly dimorphic, and the sight of the black male in close association with the rufous female is often the first clue to identification. The name refers to the extensive white on the underwing coverts of the male, which typically are visible only in flight. Pairs give contact calls as they travel through the undergrowth of clearings and edge habitats, often near water. This species is patchily distributed in areas of open forest from Costa Rica south to western Ecuador, from northern Colombia east to the Guianas, from eastern Brazil south to northern Argentina, and in the eastern Andes of Peru and southern Ecuador.
The genus name Tachyphonus derives from the Greek words takhus meaning fast, and phone meaning sound or voice, thus translates as "fast speaking" (Jobling 2010). The specific epithet, rufus, comes from the Latin word rufus meaning red, which refers to the rufous brown coloration of the female (Jobling 2010). In Spanish the common name is Tangara Negra (Hilty 2011, de Juana et al. 2012), and in Portuguese the common name is Pipira-Preta (CRBO 2010).