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[bran-l] /ˈbræn l/
a lively 16th- and 17th-century round dance originating in France.
the music for this dance.
1575-85; < Middle French, derivative of branler to shake, swing (probably from the phrase branler une danse), Old French bran(s)ler to move (a limb, the head), contraction of brandeler to shake, equivalent to brand(ir) to brandish + -eler suffix of expressive verbs < Vulgar Latin *-illāre Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for branle


an old French country dance performed in a linked circle
Word Origin
C17: from Old French branler to shake, variant of brandir to brandish
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for branle

12th-century French chain dance adopted (c. 1450-c. 1650) by European aristocrats, especially in France and in England, where the word branle was anglicized as "brawl." Named for its characteristic side-to-side movement (French branler, "to sway"), the branle was performed by a chain of dancers who alternated large sideways steps to the left (frequently four) with an equal number of smaller steps to the right. Thus the chain, usually of couples intertwining arms or holding hands, progressed to the left in a circle or serpentine figure. Branles were danced with walking, running, gliding, or skipping steps depending on the speed of the music, which was composed in 44 time.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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