round dance performed to music in triple time, extraordinarily popular as a fashionable dance from late 18c. to late 19c., the dance itself probably of Bohemian origin, 1779 (walse, in a translation of "Die Leiden des jungen Werthers" from a French translation, which has walse), from German Waltzer, from walzen "to roll, dance," from Old High German walzan "to turn, roll," from Proto-Germanic *walt- (cognate with Old Norse velta), from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve." 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?" [The Edinburgh Magazine, April 1820]
1794, from waltz (n.). Meaning "to move nimbly" (as one does in dancing a waltz) is recorded from 1862. Related: Waltzed; waltzing.