Definition of polka in US English:



  • 1A lively dance of Bohemian origin in duple time.

    • ‘The polka was a lively couple dance in 2/4 time, generally in ternary form with regular phrases, and was characterized by short rapid steps for the first beat and a half of the bar, followed by a pause or hop.’
    • ‘I did my first polka at their wedding not too - it was exhausting.’
    • ‘Traditional dances such as the krakowiak, oberek, mazur, and the zbo'jnicki will be enjoyed at such occasions, as well as the polka, a popular dance.’
    • ‘She notified her parents of her well-being, justified her expenditures and asked for more money, and kept her friends and family entertained with the details of Paris festivals and dancing the polka.’
    • ‘He indicates that the Irish dances were fine, as long as there was not enough room for the more refined movements of the polka, quadrille, or minuet.’
    • ‘Grace rests at the side of the small ballroom as she watches Carey dance a polka with Johnny Pritchett.’
    • ‘As Keil notes, ‘most of middle-class Polonia hates the polka with a passion deeper than the Atlantic’.’
    • ‘In short, we had an excellent time, and not just because we knew the polka from ‘The King and I.’’
    • ‘Most Americans are familiar with the polka, but few of them know that it is a Czech courtship dance.’
    • ‘Of course, there are those of us who don't frequent the festhallen strictly for the polka.’
    • ‘These guys are medley maniacs - Saint Bushmill's put together a three-part one for the reel, the jig, and the polka - each!’
    • ‘The polka and waltz are very popular, but Slovenes dance all major dances from the tango to the macarena.’
    • ‘I mean, his most fun was he'd invite people out of the audience to do the polka.’
    • ‘Can't blame him for preferring the samba to the polka.’
    • ‘A geek film if ever there was one, UHF finally hits DVD care of MGM in a fine edition that will make fans all over the world rise up and do the polka!’
    • ‘Then it was the roustabout galop and the polka that were all the rage.’
    • ‘Most would agree that it is probably better to have rhythm than to simply be good at doing the polka.’
    • ‘It was his flatmate who eventually roused them, crashing in through the front door exhorting the flat to come and see him dance the polka.’
    • ‘The complexity of polka as a folk dance of international proportions blurs the distinctions between folk and world music and belies any attempts to classify it with convenient stylistic and cultural categories.’
    • ‘Many Paraguayan dances resemble the polka as well as the waltz and the tango.’
    1. 1.1 A piece of music for the polka.
      • ‘Martial music, a polka, a fantasy on Verdi's ‘Jerusalem’, even variations on the Portuguese national anthem, make this multi-faceted offering a continuing surprise.’
      • ‘Happy Louie was best known for mixing styles into his polkas including Latin, country and western, and rock and roll.’
      • ‘The music of Johnny O Leary was credited with fostering a renewed interest in traditional Irish dance and he was a firm favourite with those who enjoy a lively polka or sets.’
      • ‘Another trademark of this religion is their really silly music which sounds like a cross between the polka and a Mexican Mariachi band on crank.’
      • ‘It was in fact the polka that gained him a following outside the folk circuit several years ago in Argentina, and he still includes several in his live repertoire.’
      • ‘The first features something roughly analogous to a disco beat, topped off with a bassline that owes debts to the early-1970s Krautrock of Neu! and the rather more down-home sound of the polka.’
      • ‘But I think there are people that are kinda baffled when you go from a polka to a heavy metal jam.’
      • ‘The variety of instruments alone is a testimony to the healthy state of traditional music in the area and tunes types include double jigs, reels, polkas, airs, barn dances, slip jigs and hornpipes.’
      • ‘For over five decades Vienna has celebrated the New Year with a concert of waltzes and polkas by the Strauss family and Austria's later ‘waltz kings’.’
      • ‘As the minstrel show emerged, American publishers sought to attract amateur musicians and provided a flow of spirituals, gospel songs, polkas, and Schottisches, as well as innumerable sentimental ballads and salon pieces.’
      • ‘That, and you get to hear a polka for your entire ride.’
      • ‘Along with a group performance, the concert highlighted some great solo and duet musicians as they played a selection of lively traditional jigs, reels and polkas.’
      • ‘Was this going to be an evening of polkas or ethnic folk music at the Oddfellows Hall?’
      • ‘Welser-Möst's biggest surprise was to devote half a program to a suite of Johann Strauss waltzes and polkas, fare usually reserved for New Year's Eve or other light-hearted occasions.’
      • ‘Elsewhere Sanderling displayed a truly Brucknerian spirit, particularly in the lovely ländler in the scherzo and even more so in the polka that winds its irresistible way through the final movement.’
      • ‘Soprano Rosalind Sutherland sings in the New Year with an excellent selection of arias, polkas, marches and waltzes from Strauss.’
      • ‘Combining the Mexican music of his family with the polka he heard played among the German/Czechoslovakian settlers, and the blues, Freddy developed a style all his own.’
      • ‘They embrace as the polka tune that repeats in her head returns.’
      • ‘A group of promising young musicians, accompanied by Peter Duffy, played a selection of polkas, marches, and the lovely air ‘Inis Oirr’.’
      • ‘The Hick-Ups play antiquated styles like the waltz, the polka, country swing and rockabilly.’


[no object]
  • Dance the polka.

    • ‘They tried to polka, and I educated them throughout the whole set as to who wrote the songs.’
    • ‘And it's a natural for musicals, where we've seen, for example, the King of Siam transformed from a bully to a man when he learns to polka.’
    • ‘Booze is slam dancing in a world that polkas its cares away.’
    • ‘Nobody knew that, and we weren't supposed to tell anybody, but she would come up, let him hold her glasses, and he'd start polkaing with her.’
    • ‘Several of the men let out whoops of merriment and two stood and began to polka around the fire with each other, causing laughs and jeers from the others.’


Mid 19th century: via French and German from Czech půlka ‘half-step’, from půl ‘half’.