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Related to tarantism: tarantella, Tarantino


A disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to dance, especially prevalent in southern Italy from the 15th to the 17th century and popularly attributed to the bite of a tarantula.

[New Latin tarantismus, after Taranto.]


(Pathology) a nervous disorder marked by uncontrollable bodily movement, widespread in S Italy during the 15th to 17th centuries: popularly thought to be caused by the bite of a tarantula
[C17: from New Latin tarantismus, from Taranto; see tarantula]


(ˈtær ənˌtɪz əm)

a mania characterized by an uncontrollable impulse to dance, prevalent esp. in S Italy, from the 15th to the 17th century. Compare tarantula (def. 2).
[1630–40; < New Latin tarantismus. See Taranto, -ism]
tar′ant•ist, n.


a variety of dancing mania, popularly thought to be caused by the bite of a tarantula and to be cured by dancing.
See also: Disease and Illness
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.tarantism - a nervous disorder characterized by an uncontrollable impulse to dance; popularly attributed to bite of the southern European tarantula or wolf spider
chorea - any of several degenerative nervous disorders characterized by spasmodic movements of the body and limbs
References in periodicals archive ?
Sometimes it was hard to say if a bite had actually occurred or if a patient was simply displaying some form of tarantism (which also included swelling, severe pain, nausea, spasms, vomiting, melancholia and hysteria.
Verardi D (2013) The occult in the naturai magic of Giovan Battista Della Porta and the phenomena of tarantism.
Land of Remorse: A Study of Southern Italian Tarantism (London: Free
The dissertation" De Anatome, Morsu & Effectibus Tarantulae (Of the Anatomy, the Bite, and the Effects of the Tarantula (1696) by the Apulian doctor Giorgio Baglivi, is and the most reliable source on the tarantism and the attempt to explain the musical cure by physical reasons, namely, transpiration [20-22].
Keywords: Gervasi, Notte della Taranta, Festival, Cultural Policies, Music of Oral Tradition, World Music, Salento, Tarantism
An interesting occurrence during this time was the curious phenomenon of 'dancing mania', or tarantism, which swept Europe following the plague in 1374.
Koester explores the labile borderline between consciousness and its various possible modifications--through trance in Tarantism, 2007, for instance, or through psychoactive drugs in The Hashish Club, 2009--and between reason and what escapes its control.