One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A bouncing step in dancing; specifically (Ballet) a jump in which the dancer stretches one leg to either the front, the back, or the side and lands on the other, before joining the feet in the cou-de-pied.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in Laurence Sterne (1713–1768), writer and Church of England clergyman. From French ballonné, use as noun of past participle of ballonner, with reference to the bouncing movement of the dancer.
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