c. 1300, from dance (v.).
c. 1300, from Old French dancier (12c., Modern French danser), which is of unknown origin, perhaps from Low Frankish *dintjan and akin to Old Frisian dintje "tremble, quiver." A word of uncertain origin but which, through French influence in arts and society, has become the primary word for this activity from Spain to Russia (Italian danzare, Spanish danzar, Rumanian dansa, Swedish dansa, German tanzen).
In part the loanword from French is used mainly with reference to fashionable dancing while the older native word persists in use with reference to folk-dancing, as definitively Russ. pljasat' vs. tancovat' [Carl Darling Buck, "A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages," 1949].
Replaced Old English sealtian, itself a borrowing from Latin saltare "to dance," frequentative of salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.); "dance" words frequently are derived from words meaning "jump, leap"). Related: Danced; dancing.
It is strange, and will, I am sure, appear to my readers almost incredible, that as far as I have ever read, there is no reference that can be identified as containing a clear allusion to dancing in any of our really ancient MS. books. [Eugene O'Curry, "On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish," vol. II, p. 406, 1873]
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