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.
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.