Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A lively, whirling southern Italian dance once thought to be a remedy for tarantism.
  • n. The music for this dance, in 6/8 time.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A rapid dance in 6/8 time, originating in Italy, or a piece of music for such a dance.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A rapid and delirious sort of Neapolitan dance in 6-8 time, which moves in whirling triplets; -- so called from a popular notion of its being a remedy against the poisonous bite of the tarantula. Some derive its name from Taranto in Apulia.
  • n. Music suited to such a dance.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A rapid, whirling dance for one couple, originating in southern Italy and specially common in the sixteenth century, when it was popularly supposed to be a remedy for tarantism.
  • n. Music for such a dance, or in its rhythm, which in early examples was quadruple, but is now sextuple and very quick. It is usually characterized by sharp transitions from major to minor.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. music composed in six-eight time for dancing the tarantella
  • n. a lively whirling Italian dance for two persons

Etymologies

Italian, after Taranto .
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Italian tarantella, a diminutive of Taranto, a town in southern Italy (but popularly associated with tarantola ‘tarantula’, on the belief that the dance was variously a result of, or cure for, its bite). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But the tarantella is a novelty to the sight-seeing tourist, who believes he must see everything in order to be an authority when he gets back home.

    The Lure of the Mask

  • We learn to understand why our addled minds seize so little with precision, why they are caught up and tossed about in a kind of tarantella by headlines and catch-words, why so often they cannot tell things apart or discern identity in apparent differences.

    Public Opinion

  • On all sides picturesque groups of dancers indulge in the old peasants 'measure, the _percorara, _ to the droning of bagpipes -- a demure kind of tarantella, the male capering about with faun-like attitudes of invitation and snappings of fingers, his partner evading the advances with downcast eyes.

    Old Calabria

  • Though it continued much longer than the corresponding manifestations in northern Europe, by the beginning of the eighteenth century it had nearly disappeared; and, though special manifestations of it on a small scale still break out occasionally, its main survival is the "tarantella," which the traveller sees danced at Naples as a catchpenny assault upon his purse.

    A History of the warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom

  • The 13 songs on the new CD, are tone poems of a sort, but also slightly skewed tales - in a kind of tarantella, an octopus has three hearts, one of which is for you; elsewhere, treasure hunters decide to keep, not share, their finds.

    Lahontan Valley News - Top Stories

  • "It's 'bridge' for money or expensive prizes; and compared to the excitement it causes, the tarantella is a sitting-down dance.

    People of the Whirlpool

  • 1. True; we learn this from his Italian journals strictly speaking he took the detour to study the folklore about both the 'tarantella' and the tarantula.

    Pop Quiz

  • After the second "Tippi-tippi-tay," he asked, "Has anyone ever seen a gay tarantella?"

    Snagging a Dinner at Rao's

  • The new mantra sang in his head and danced a tarantella, double-speed, triple, and then it became a dirge.

    The Silence

  • "The Spaniards dance the paso doble, the Italians dance the tarantella, but the whole word dances the tango," he says.

    It Takes Two to Tango, So Long as They're Both Argentines

Comments

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  • This dance is also a cure for the bite of the tarantula, so the legend goes.

    April 10, 2008