from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun 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.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (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.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun 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.

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

  • noun a nervous disorder characterized by an uncontrollable impulse to dance; popularly attributed to bite of the southern European tarantula or wolf spider


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

[New Latin tarantismus, after Taranto.]



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  • JM just doesn’t have the urge for tarantism that he used to.

    September 5, 2009