The term Walloon is derived from *walha, a Proto-Germanic term used to refer to Celtic and Latin speakers.
Walloon originated in Romance languages alongside other related terms, but it supplanted them. Its oldest written trace is found in Jean de Haynin's Mémoires de Jean, sire de Haynin et de Louvignies in 1465, where it refers to Roman populations of the Burgundian Netherlands. Its meaning narrowed yet again during the French and Dutch periods and, at Belgian independence, the term designated only Belgians speaking a Romance language (French, Walloon, Picard, etc.) The linguistic cleavage in the politics of Belgium adds a political content to "the emotional cultural, and linguistic concept". The words Walloon and Wallons can be seen in the book of Charles White, The Belgic Revolution (1835): "The restless Wallons, with that adventurous daring which is their historical characteristic, abandoned their occupations, and eagerly seizing the pike and the musket marched towards the centre of the commotion.". The Spanish terms of Walon and Walona from the 17th century referred to a Royal Guard Corps recruited in the Spanish Flanders. They were involved in many of the most significant battles of the Spanish Empire. The French word Wallons in English is also used in the Encyclopædia Britannica.
Albert Henry wrote that although in 1988 the word Walloon evoked a constitutional reality, it originally referred to Roman populations of the Burgundian Netherlands and was also used to designate a territory by the terms provinces wallonnes or
Walloon country (Pays wallon), from the 16th century to the Belgian revolution, and later Wallonia. The term 'Walloon country' was also used in Dutch viz. Walsch land. The term existed also in German, perhaps Wulland in Hans Heyst's book (1571) where Wulland is translated by Wallonia in English (1814). In German it is however generally Wallonenland : Le païs de Valons, Belgolalia, Wallonenland, in "Le Grand Dictionnaire Royal" Augsbourg, 1767; The name of the churches' consecration is in Touraine assemblées, in Brittany pardons, in the northern Departments sometimes kermesses, sometimes as in the Walloon country, ducasses (from dedicatio)  In English, it is Walloon country (see further James Shaw). In French (and France (Wand)), it is le Pays wallon: The Walloon country included the greatest part of to-day's Belgium, the Province of Flandre orientale, the Province of Flandre occidentale both named Flandre wallonne, the Province of Namur, the Hainaut, the Limbourg, the pays de Liège and even the Luxembourg For Félix Rousseau, Walloon country is, after le Roman pays the old name of the country of the Walloons and the nickname Romande was commonly used to describe Walloons until the late 19th century.
The term "state reform" in the Belgian context indicates a process towards finding constitutional and legal solutions for the problems and tensions among the different segments of the Belgian population, mostly Dutch-speakers of Flanders and French-speakers of Wallonia. In general, Belgium evolved from a unitary state to a federal state with communities, regions and language areas.