(TAR-uhn-tiz-uhm)- An uncontrollable urge to dance - After Taranto, a town in southern Italy where this phenomenon was experienced during the 15-17th centuries. It's not clear whether tarantism was the symptom of a spider's bite or its cure, or it may have been just a pretext to dodge a
prohibition against dancing. The names of the dance tarantella and the spider tarantula are both derived from the same place.
"The director is in a wild delirium, spinning in circles as though stricken with tarantism, his whirring camera held at arm's length, panning, tilting, arcing and oscillating and making other moves that have no name."
by JRob August 25, 2006

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Top Definition
The uncontrollable urge to dance to relieve one's melancholy.
I think I've got a bad case of tarantism, I just can't seem to stop myself from getting down and funky.

It's really a word, look it up in the real dictionary.
by sean82fta August 13, 2005

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A strange occurrence in Southern Italy, often described as hysterical behavior or a superstitious Southern Italian dance/ritual, most common in the 15th to 17th centuries, but continuing into the 20th century. If someone was bitten by a tarantula wolf spider (different than what Anglophones call tarantulas), the victim seemed to fall ill and collapse. Music would be played to them, and the victim would dance, convulse, and thrash around in time to the music. The music played later developed into the tarantella. Dancing to the tarantella was the only way to heal the victim. As time continued into the 20th century, when tarantism had become far less common, tarantism was associated with affecting women more than men. The names tarantula, tarantella, and tarantismo (tarantism) all came from the Southern Italian city Taranto.
Person 1: I feel like I just need to dance. I have tarantism.
Person 2: No you don't. This isn't Southern Italy, you weren't bitten by a spider, and you won't fall ill.
by sealandreich October 24, 2016

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