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[pohl-kuh, poh-kuh] /ˈpoʊl kə, ˈpoʊ kə/
noun, plural polkas.
a lively couple dance of Bohemian origin, with music in duple meter.
a piece of music for such a dance or in its rhythm.
verb (used without object), polkaed, polkaing.
to dance the polka.
Origin of polka
1835-45; < Czech: literally, Polish woman or girl; compare Polish polka Polish woman, polak Pole Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for polka
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If you could see the little girl dance the polka with her sisters!

    Letters of Edward FitzGerald Edward FitzGerald
  • Among the other 2-4 rhythms are the polka, suitable for Ballet work.

  • You might as well try to sing a long-metre hymn to "Fisher's Hornpipe," as to undertake to dance to that polka.

  • Then we can have a waltz, and try a vanilla—and a polka, and some lemonade!

    About Peggy Saville Mrs. G. de Horne Vaizey
  • The name of a very well-known dance, the polka, really means "Polish woman."

    Stories That Words Tell Us Elizabeth O'Neill
British Dictionary definitions for polka


noun (pl) -kas
a 19th-century Bohemian dance with three steps and a hop, in fast duple time
a piece of music composed for or in the rhythm of this dance
verb -kas, -kaing, -kaed
(intransitive) to dance a polka
Word Origin
C19: via French from Czech pulka half-step, from pul half
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for polka

1844, from French polka, German Polka, probably from Czech polka, the dance, literally "Polish woman" (Polish Polka), fem. of Polak "a Pole." The word might also be an alteration of Czech pulka "half," for the half-steps of Bohemian peasant dances. Or it could be a merger of the two. The dance was in vogue first in Prague, 1835; it reached London by the spring of 1842.

Vous n'en êtes encore qu'au galop, vieil arriéré, et nous en sommes à la polka! Oui, c'est la polka que nous avons dansée à ce fameux bal Valenlino. Vous demandez ce que c'est que la polka, homme de l année dernière! La contredanse a vécu; le galop, rococo; la valse à deux temps, dans le troisième dessous; il n'y a plus que la polka, la sublime, l'enivrante polka, dont les salons raffolent, que les femmes de la haute, les banquiéres les plus cossues et les comtesses les plus choenosophoses étudient jour et nuit. ["La France Dramatique," Paris, 1841]
As a verb by 1846 (polk also was tried).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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polka in Culture

polka definition

A lively dance for couples, originating in eastern Europe.

Note: Johann Strauss, the Younger wrote many polkas.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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