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The meaning and origin of the expression: Dance attendance on

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Dance attendance on

Meaning

To wait upon someone in an overly assiduous or sycophantic manner.

Origin

The derivation of this phrase isn't known. It probably has the same root source as kick one's heels, although that is a later phrase. Both phrases refer to someone shuffling and tapping their feet impatiently while waiting to be summoned.

The first citation of 'dance attendance' is from John Skelton's Why come ye nat to courte?, circa 1522:

"And Syr ye must daunce attendance, And take patient sufferaunce, For my Lords Grace, Hath now no time or space, To speke with you as yet."

Shakespeare later used it in King Henry VI, Part I, 1592:

YORK:
I'll tell thee, Suffolk, why I am unmeet:
First, for I cannot flatter thee in pride;
Next, if I be appointed for the place,
My Lord of Somerset will keep me here,
Without discharge, money, or furniture,
Till France be won into the Dauphin's hands:
Last time, I danced attendance on his will
Till Paris was besieged, famish'd, and lost.

See other - phrases and sayings from Shakespeare.