This post is not for those who are squeamish about …


Photo by Viki via Wikimedia Commons

See what I mean?

If you’re still with me, then you’re a trooper, but you’re probably also wondering why I decided to kick off today with a photo of a tarantula.

Let me give you an obnoxiously obscure hint:

What do tarantulas have in common with the picture below?


Photo by FlyGirl555 via Wikimedia Commons

Tarantulas … dancing … do you dare to hazard a guess?

The answer is a word of which I’d never heard:

Tarantism (TAR-uhn-tiz-uhm).

It refers, says, to “a mania characterized by an uncontrollable impulse to dance, especially as prevalent in southern Italy from the 15th to the 17th century, popularly attributed to the bite of the tarantula.”

Okay, but …

This definition left me even more puzzled than before.

Upon further investigation, I found that the terms “tarantism” and “tarantula” both originated in the city of Taranto, Italy, a picturesque but purportedly polluted seaport where the bites of these spiders were once believed to cause wild spasms of frantic footloosery.

Why not?

Now you have an excuse the next time the desire to dance overcomes you.

Tarantismo,” you can sigh in your best Italian accent. “Blame the spider!”


Verb Quiz

Put on your gab-a-lorious thinking caps, girls …

girl in hat

Photo by Harry Poulsen via Wikimedia Commons

Because it’s time for another wonderful word matching quiz!


(I heard you whooping for joy.)

This week, I pulled a slew of wacky verbs from my trove of terminology and would love to know how many of them you can match to their definitions.

I’ll give you a word and its pronunciation, then I’ll list three definitions—only one choice is correct. Write down your answers as you go, then check them at the end.


1. Honeyfuggle (HUN-ee-fuh-guhl):

A. To deceive or swindle, especially by flattery

B. To wink

C. To distract by means of confusion


2. Lallygag (LAL-ee-gag, LAH-lee-gag):

A. To herd geese

B. To sneeze

C. To fool around, waste time, or spend time lazily


3. Hornswoggle (HAWRN-swog-uhl):

A. To charm one into doing things your way

B. To laugh with gusto

C. To bamboozle, trick, hoodwink, or hoax


4. Nictitate (NIK-ti-teyt):

A. To wink

B. To chew

C. To smoke


5. Blandish (BLAN-dish):

A. To wield a sword

B. To coax with flattery

C. To cover one’s face with a kerchief


6. Bombilate (BOM-bi-layt):

A. To make a humming or buzzing noise

B. To guess

C. To overwhelm with kindness


7. Gam (Gam):

A. To kick one’s leg

B. To spend time talking

C. To chew with one’s mouth open


8. Agglutinate (uh-GLOOT-n-ayt):

A. To become gluten tolerant

B. To describe something thoroughly

C. To join or become joined as if by glue


All done?

Pretty confident?

Gorilla Scratching Head

Photo by Steven Straiton via Wikimedia Commons

If so—if you’re sure you know—then go ahead and check your answers …

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