American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. 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.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A dancing mania; specifically and originally, a dancing mania of the south of Italy in those who had been bitten by a tarantula, or thought they had been, and their imitators.
- n. obsolete, medicine An extreme urge to dance, popularly thought to have been caused by the bite of a tarantula and prevalent in southern Italy in the 15th through 17th centuries.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Med.) A nervous affection producing melancholy, stupor, and an uncontrollable desire to dance. It was supposed to be produced by the bite of the tarantula, and considered to be incapable of cure except by protracted dancing to appropriate music.
- n. a nervous disorder characterized by an uncontrollable impulse to dance; popularly attributed to bite of the southern European tarantula or wolf spider
- New Latin tarantismus, after Taranto . (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“These effects consisted of a feigned or imaginary disease known as tarantism, which was prevalent in Apulia and other portions of southern Italy during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.”
“tarantism," which was supposed to originate in the bite of the tarantula.”
“One of the oldest documents on the subject of tarantism, Ferdinando Ponzetti's Sertum Papale De Venensis (1362), had suggested that the victims of shade-dwelling spiders were hostages to the music of the tarantula's bite, to its 'cantum tempore'.”
“Music, as a cure for tarantism, 197-200; as a medicine, 189; at banquets, 180-184; at hospitals, 193; distasteful to some persons, 186; healing influence of, 172-200.”
“Indeed, Dr.H. Chomet, who diligently investigated the matter, never succeeded in finding a case of tarantism, nor was he able even to obtain a glimpse of one of these insects.”
“It is certain, however, that tarantism was very prevalent in earlier times.”
“Dr. Mead, above mentioned, gave a curious description of the symptoms of tarantism.”
“Many physicians and historians have written on this subject, and with singular unanimity have endorsed music as a curative agent for tarantism.”
“This form of "possession," then, passed out of the supernatural domain, and became known as "tarantism.”
“Almost simultaneous with the dance of ` ` St. With, '' there appeared in Italy and Arabia a mania very similar in character which was called ` ` tarantism, '' which was supposed to originate in the bite of the tarantula.”
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