1590s, "confusion," from welter (v.). The meaning "confused mass" is first recorded 1851.
"to roll or twist," early 14c., from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German welteren "to roll," from Proto-Germanic *waltijan (source also of Old English wieltan, Old Norse velta, Old High German walzan "to turn, revolve," German wälzen "to roll," Gothic waltjan "to roll"), from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve." Related: Weltered; weltering.
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