- waltz (n.)
- dance performed to music in triple time, 1781, from German Waltzer, from walzen "to roll, dance," from Old High German walzan "to turn, roll," from Proto-Germanic *walt- (cf. Old Norse velta), from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve" (see volvox). Described in 1825 as "a riotous and indecent German dance" [Walter Hamilton, "A Hand-Book or Concise Dictionary of Terms Used in the Arts and Sciences"].
The music struck up a beautiful air, and the dancers advanced a few steps, when suddenly, to my no small horror and amazement, the gentlemen seized the ladies round the waist, and all, as if intoxicated by this novel juxtaposition, began to whirl about the room, like a company of Bacchanalians dancing round a statue of the jolly god. "A waltz!" exclaimed I, inexpressibly shocked, "have I lived to see Scotch women waltz?" I looked at the spectators and hoped to see the blush of modesty tinge the cheeks of those who were thus forced to witness such a disgraceful exhibition; but if it had excited in any the glow of virtuous indignation, they had prudently retired behind the crowd; as those who met my view were either gazing with perfect unconcern, or critically examining and commenting upon the different styles of dancing. "And this," thought I, "is the nineteenth century! This is the age of purity which I have been so highly extolling! Are the reasonings of the wise to be ever thus overthrown by the practice of fools?" ["The Edinburgh Magazine," April, 1820]
- waltz (v.)
- 1794, from waltz (n.). Meaning "to move nimbly" is recorded from 1862. Related: Waltzed; waltzing.