[Ads-l] Waltzing Matilda

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Mon Aug 1 10:07:01 UTC 2016

The online OED added two texts (that were first reported on this list in 2011):

1889   Centennial Mag. (Australia) Nov. 286/2   The coarse blue blankets are shaken and folded..neatly arranged in a long slim bundle that is slung across the back... This is what the bushman in his queer cynical dialect calls 'Bluey', 'Matilda', and half-a-dozen other more or less ambiguous names.
1890   Centennial Mag. (Australia) June 850/2   There was no road they did not know, and 'humping bluey', 'waltzing matilda'-Anglicé, carrying their swags-or riding they traversed year in and out countless miles of solitary and inhospitable country.

Stephen Goranson


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Subject: [ADS-L] Waltzing Matilda

The Wikipedia page attributes the term to German »auf der Walz« (the
journeyman's travels before receiving his master and permission to
settle as a member of a guild).  This seems rather dubious because
there are hardly any older traces that "wal[t]z" is used in this sense
in English (which is itself rather surprising; maybe the population
density of the early United States effectively put a stop to the

The publications I could find with Google Book Search were published
after the change to the Wikipedia entry:

  <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__en.wikipedia.org_w_index.php-3Ftitle-3DWaltzing-5FMatilda-26diff-3D1079724-26oldid-3D1079537&d=CwIFaQ&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6YHLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=kIPf5IO9HeybwmkrcReD-GrJGQGKq7Wej5ckL4tXPM8&s=4BYMJF38xaXfG70eF0dmxCtUdPKH2EMZpurOR8awB6s&e= >

Nowadays, Wikipedia cites the OED.  However, under "Matilda", the 1989
edition does not contain any quote which suggests that "waltzing"
refers to the concept described above and not to the dance (in a
transferred fashion, either to the way the bundle sways back and
forth, or perhaps to the act of moving it around the country), and the
"waltz" (v) entry only refers back to "Matilda" without further

Has the online edition of the OED been updated?  If yes, do they
provide a historic quote which shows the »auf der Walz« connection?

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