- a rapid, whirling southern Italian dance in very quick sextuple, originally quadruple, meter, usually performed by a single couple, and formerly supposed to be a remedy for tarantism.
- a piece of music either for the dance or in its rhythm.
Origin of tarantella
Examples from the Web for tarantella
Was there not in the air the thin sound of a reed flute playing a tarantella?A Spirit in Prison
The tarantella then was no more than an interlude in a play.
It wasn't the tarantella only that led him this long wandering.
Delarey seemed to him like a tarantella in repose, if such a thing could be.
The tarantella—that was the dance of the soil here, the dance of the blood.
- a peasant dance from S Italy
- a piece of music composed for or in the rhythm of this dance, in fast six-eight time
Word Origin and History for tarantella
1782, "peasant dance popular in Italy," originally "hysterical malady characterized by extreme impulse to dance" (1630s), epidemic in Apulia and adjacent parts of southern Italy 15c.-17c., popularly attributed to (or believed to be a cure for) the bite of the tarantula. This is likely folk-etymology, however, and the dance is from Taranto, the name of a city in southern Italy (see tarantula). Used from 1833 to mean the style of music that accompanies this dance, usually in 6/8 time, with whirling triplets and abrupt major-minor modulations.