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Related to tarantism: tarantella, Tarantino


A form of mass hysteria that originated in Taranto, Italy, in the late Middle Ages as a dancing mania to cure the madness allegedly caused by the bite of a tarantula.


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.


(1) Chorea.
(2) A term of largely historical interest for a condition first recognised during the Middle Ages and characterised by choreiform spasms that occurred in large closed communities, and is now thought to have been a mass hysterical conversion reaction.


(tar'an-tizm) [ Taranto, seaport in southern Italy, + Gr. -ismos, condition]
A disorder that is culturally specific to regions of Italy and Northern Africa, marked by stupor, melancholy, and uncontrollable, manic dancing. It is popularly attributed to the bite of the tarantula, although some experts believe it to be an example of a mass psychogenic illness. Synonym: tarentism
References in periodicals archive ?
She also writes of the younger generation's attempts at exotic fusions with other musical forms, and the use of instruments such as the bagpipe which had not been previously associated with tarantism.
Ritualized Illness and Music Therapy: Views of Tarantism in the Kingdom of Naples.
Tarantism is an affliction supposedly produced by the bite of a tarantula, has been endemic in impoverished southern Italy for at least 500 years, and is cured through music and trance-dancing the famed tarentella.
The modern city of Taranto in the Italian region of Apulia was the centre of tarantism in the 15th to 17th centuries.
The original wolf spider known by the name tarantula was believed to have a bite that caused a hysteria called tarantism.
Taranto): The tarantula was the name given to the European Wolf Spider (Lycos tarantula) after people in Taranto believed the spider's bite caused the disease Tarantism the symptoms of which are uncontrolled weeping and jumping about leading to the wild dance the Tarantalla.
While in Italy, a curious malady known as tarantism became prevalent during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.