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Ross G Caldwell  Ross G Caldwell is offline
Join Date: 07 Jul 2003
Location: Béziers, France
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Ross G Caldwell 

Originally Posted by kwaw
I still feel generally that John Florio's Italian – English dictionary 1598 probably gives the most straightforward and correct definition.


Tarócco. see Datarócco.

Datarócco - foolish, gullish, wayward, forward, peeuish

Taroccáre - to play at Tarócchi. Also to play the forward gull or peevish ninnie.

Gull and ninny are synonyms of 'fool'. Taroccare thuse means 'to play the fool. Tarocchi must simply mean something like 'fool' or perhaps 'folly'.


This agrees with speculations I have made, based on texts by Berni (1526) and Folengo (c. 1520); see TarotL post on proposed etymologies for the word "tarot" at

Specifically, numbers 1 and 7:

"1. Francesco Berni "Capitolo del Giocco della Primiera", 1526. "Let
him look to it, who is pleased with the game of Tarocco, that the
only signification of this word Tarocco, is stupid, foolish, simple,
fit only to be used by bakers, cobblers, and the vulgar;..." See Kaplan, Enc. of Tarot vol. I, pp. 28 and illustration of Berni's text on page 29.

"7. Tarocus. Teofile Folengo uses the word "tarocus" to mean "stupid"
or "imbecile" in one of his poems (c. 1520)("Glossario" sub "Tarocus"
of Carlo Cordié, ed. "Opere di Teofilo Folengo" vol. I (Milano,
Ricciano Ricciardi) p. 1029)."

An expanded version of this list is at

Although it seems plausible, I'm not so sure about this definition anymore. The original word may have been French, and got "translated" into Italian. It is hard to explain the lack of the final hard "k" sound if it came from Italian into French (although in Savoy they spelled it "tarocs" up to the 20th century - how was it locally pronounced?).

The earliest known "French" reference (actually in a Latin document) spells it "taraux", which is strange for a Latin spelling if the author of the document was transcribing something he only *heard*. It seems then that he had actually seen the word spelled this way - so it could already have been a "brand name" for the cards, printed on the wrapper or on a card itself.

But, both languages could have had a term, derived from some common low-latin word, that meant the same thing. The place to look for it then is the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries.

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