The word waltz was directly borrowed sometime in the late eighteenth century from German Walzer, which they adopted as the name for the Bohemian dance . Walzer comes from the verb walzen, which meant "to dance", and that comes from the Old High German word walzan, which meant "to turn" (there certainly is a lot of twirling present in waltzes). In Proto-Germanic, this may be reconstructed to walt, with the same meaning, and in Proto-Indo-European, it's wel, also with the same definition. Other words derived from this PIE root include devolve, evolve, revolve, wallet, vulva, vault, and helicopter, among others. The verb welter (meaning "to move turbulently") also comes from the Old High German word walzan, so a lot of cognates there. Waltz as a verb was coined in 1862, off the noun. Anthimeria strikes again! Usage of the word waltz peaked in the interwar and World War II years.
5/6/2019 01:30:22 pm
My friend referred to his wallet as a 'walt. And I go to wondering. Wald, like "vald" - or - vault. Walden came to mind and I suspected that wallet was a small vault. But the unknowns of its etymology have strong emphasis to the P.I.E. root "wal" as in to walk etc. A walkable personal sack. Makes sense. Still fun. Thank you.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.