Frolic is a beautiful term that somehow captures the essence of what frolicking feels like. The meaning of "playfully prance around" is from the 1580s; before that, it was actually an adjective describing someone as "full of joy". However, that wasn't around for long; the word was borrowed in the 1530s from Dutch vrolik, also "cheerful". This underwent quite a bit of alterations as we travel back to Old Dutch; some attested variations included vrolijk, vrolijc, frolik, and vrolyc. The common things in all these words (despite the continued definition) are the two Dutch roots: vro, meaning "merry", and lyc, meaning "like". Vro is reconstructed as coming from Proto-Indo-European preu, or "hop", which makes the act of frolicking an etymological jumping for joy.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.