kind of lively round-dance which originated in Bohemia, 1844, from French polka, German Polka, probably from Czech polka, the dance, literally "Polish woman" (Polish Polka), fem. of Polak "a Pole" (see Pole). The word might also be an alteration of Czech pulka "half," for the half-steps of Bohemian peasant dances. Or it could be a merger of the two. The dance was in vogue first in Prague, 1835; it reached London by the spring of 1842.
Vous n'en êtes encore qu'au galop, vieil arriéré, et nous en sommes à la polka! Oui, c'est la polka que nous avons dansée à ce fameux bal Valentino. Vous demandez ce que c'est que la polka, homme de l année dernière! La contredanse a vécu; le galop, rococo; la valse à deux temps, dans le troisième dessous; il n'y a plus que la polka, la sublime, l'enivrante polka, dont les salons raffolent, que les femmes de la haute, les banquiéres les plus cossues et les comtesses les plus choenosophoses étudient jour et nuit. ["La France Dramatique," Paris, 1841]
As a verb by 1846 (polk also was tried).
"pattern consisting of dots of uniform size and arrangement," especially on fabric, 1851 (polka-spot and polka-dotted are used in 1849), when they were in fashion, from polka (n.) + dot (n.). Named for the dance, for no reason except its popularity, which led to many contemporary products and fashions taking the name (polka hat, polka-jacket, etc.). They had a revival in fashion c. 1873. Related: Polka-dots.
*pelə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "flat; to spread."
It forms all or part of: airplane; dysplasia; ectoplasm; effleurage; esplanade; explain; explanation; feldspar; field; flaneur; floor; llano; palm (n.1) "flat of the hand;" palm (n.2) "tropical tree;" palmy; piano; pianoforte; plain; plan; planar; Planaria; plane (n.1) "flat surface;" plane (n.3) "tool for smoothing surfaces;" plane (v.2) "soar, glide on motionless wings;" planet; plani-; planisphere; plano-; -plasia; plasma; plasmid; plasm; -plasm; -plast; plaster; plastic; plastid; -plasty; Polack; Poland; Pole; polka; protoplasm; veldt.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek plassein "to mold," plasma "something molded or created;" Latin planus "flat, level, even, plain, clear;" Lithuanian plonas "thin;" Celtic *lanon "plain;" Old Church Slavonic polje "flat land, field," Russian polyi "open;" Old English feld, Middle Dutch veld "field."
also do-se-do, common step in square-, contra-, polka-dancing, etc., 1929, from French dos-à-dos "back to back" (see dossier).
round dance resembling a polka, 1849, from German Schottische, from schottische (tanz) "Scottish (dance)," from Schotte "a native of Scotland," from Old High German Scotto, from Late Latin Scottus (see Scot). The pronunciation is French. Also the music for such a dance.