A quick, spirited Italian folk dance that involves much spinning and often the playing of tambourines is called the tarantella.

If you have a creepy feeling that tarantella has something to do with spiders, your instincts are not too far off. A tarantella is not an eight-legged creature but is in fact a dance, or the music for it, in lively 6/8 time. It gets its name from the Italian port of Taranto, as does the tarantula. The words are united in an old folk belief that frenzied dancing was required to avoid death after a tarantula bite.

Definitions of tarantella
  1. noun
    a lively whirling Italian dance for two persons
    synonyms: tarantelle
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    type of:
    social dancing
    dancing as part of a social occasion
  2. noun
    music composed in six-eight time for dancing the tarantella
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    type of:
    dance music
    music to dance to
Word Family

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