That Word Again...Tarot

What if.......
Tarocchi was formed like this...
Te = thee or you before vowel becomes T' (apostrophe)
aro = plow, cultivate, work
occhio = eye = irregular plural io = occhi (as in micrscopio becomes microscopi)
and so you get Vulgar Latin into Italian.....T'arocchi
You cultivate eyes?
What would that mean to you?
If this was so and Trionfi plural of Trionfo
meant a 'Three part Parade or celebration' would it be a stretch to imagine
that you are going to see something in three parts that you work with?
I am taking for granted the word Tarot is a French derivative of Tarocchi.
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: That Word Again...Tarot

From Trionfi

Inaccurate: The word is Egyptian, Hebrew, or Latin; it is an anagram; it holds the key to the mystery of the cards.

Current Historical Understanding: The earliest names for the tarot are all Italian. Originally the cards were called carte da trionfi (cards of the triumphs). Around 1530 (about 100 years after the origin of the cards), the word tarocchi (singular tarocco) begins to be used to distinguish them from a new game of triumphs or trumps then being played with ordinary playing cards. The etymology of this new word is not known. The German form is tarock, the French form is tarot. Even if the etymology were known, it would probably not tell us much about the idea behind the cards, since it only came into use 100 years after they first appeared.

The use of the word Tarocchi and Taraux is proven for the year 1505 in two cases, one for Italy, one for France (recent findings of Depaulis and Francesschini). Before that date a use is unknown.

From Wikipedia
The English and French word tarot derives from the Italian tarocchi, which has no known origin or etymology. One theory relates the name "tarot" to the Taro River in northern Italy, near Parma; the game seems to have originated in northern Italy, in Milan or Bologna. Other writers believe it comes from the Arabic word طرق turuq, which means 'ways'. Alternatively, it may be from the Arabic ترك taraka, 'to leave, abandon, omit, leave behind'.According to a French etymology, the Italian tarocco derived from Arabic طرح ṭarḥ,'rejection; subtraction, deduction, discount'.
There is also the question of whether the word tarot is related to Harut and Marut, who were mentioned in a short account in the Qur'an. According to this account, a group of Israelites learned magic, for demonstration and to test them, from two angels called Harut and Marut, and it adds that this knowledge of magic would be passed on to others by the devil. What can be taken into account here is the phonetic resemblance of tarot تاروت to Harut هاروت and Marut ماروت.
From Valliant on the Web
Let us now examine the word TAROT, or TARO, and discover, if we can, its true derivation and meaning. Court de Gèbelin states that there are three words of Oriental origin preserved in the nomenclature of the Pack. These are TARO, MAT, and PAGAD. Taro, he says, is pure Egyptian; from TAR, Path, and RO, ROS, or ROG, Royal--the Royal Path of Life. MAT is Oriental, and means overpowered, murdered, crack-brained; while PAGAD, he adds, is also Oriental, form PAG, chief, or master, and GAD, Fortune. Vailant says: "The great divinity Ashtaroth, As-taroth, is no other than the Indo-Tartar Tan-tara, the Tarot, the Zodiac." My derivation of the word, which I have never found given by any author, is from the ancient hieroglyphical Egyptian word "târu", to require an answer, or to consult; ergo, that which is consulted, or from which an answer is required. This appears to me to be the correct origin of the word, while the second t is an Egyptian hieroglyphic final, which is added to denote the feminine gender. The following are interesting metatheses of the letters of TARO: TORA (Hebrew) = Law; TROA (Hebrew) = Gate; ROTA (Latin) = wheel; ORAT (Latin) = it speaks, argues, or entreats; TAOR (Egyptian) = Täur, the Goddess of Darkness; ATOR (Egyptian) = Athor, the Egyptian Venus. A Mr. Lumley tells me that there is a Zend word "tarisk", meaning "to require an answer".
From Kaplan Vol.1 (1978)
The term Trionfi was used in italy in the fifteenth century to describe the twenty-two Major Arcana cards. The term Tarocchi subsequently came into usage in Italy in the early sixteenth century, first referring to the twenty-two Majpor Arcana cards, and thereafter to the complete seventy-eight card deck…..The words tarocchi and tarocco are often used interchangeably, although tarocchi is actually the plural of tarocco. Tarot, the French derivitive of Tarocchi, has come into widespread usage in the English language.
All my many books cite what Tarot means, not has there been a discussion that I can find about the Italian word Tarocchi maybe someone here can point me towards it.
I have liked SteveM’s idea of ‘Trifle’ or ‘Trunk’- but I cannot find his discussion.
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: That Word Again...Tarot

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:The Italian writer Berni, in 1524, offered that tarocco meant "foolish, stupid, simple". It was believed that he was only making up a meaning based on the sound of other Italian words - sciocco etc. But I found it used in the late 15th century by the poet Bassano Mantovano (writing in Milan) as "tarocus" (sometimes given as "tarochus") meaning the same thing - a fool, an idiot. Since then Thierry Depaulis has also found some examples showing that a group of words in Proveçal and Catalan with the sound "taroc" mean the same thing. They seem to derive from a word meaning a stump or block of wood, thus used metaphorically for an idiot, a block-head; like we say in English, "dumb as a post". So the sense is "dumb as a stump".

Why would this be given as the name of former Triumph cards? We can only guess at this point. I suggested once that it meant "crazy cards" - since they were larger and had many more cards than the regular pack. But another good suggestion is that it refers to the Fool in the game, which no other game has (the Joker was invented indepently in the US only in the 19th century). I mean the special card depicting a fool, with his special role, and not the depiction of Unters or other regular cards as fools, which of course some packs, especially German ones, of course have.

Re: That Word Again...Tarot

There is a long convoluted reason for what I have suggested in this thread.
Thank you marco for the thread and the other thread within it about the French eating monster Tarasque.

Without going into a great 'convolution' I was reading (Very slowly :ymsigh: ) in Church Latin/Ecclesiastical Latin some stuff about the Mass. I was surprised about a statement about how the eyes put things in line (like the Stations of the Cross)or the more easily understood the eyes place things in an order looked like Tarrochi.
In oculi enim oro/arare and into early Italian Occhi per oro or somewhat similiar depending on the dialect- ie Umbrian/Tuscan etc.
So I thought.... a Game name somehow with the church understanding of a visual sequence like the Mass. The Eyes....something :p A Game called "USE YOUR EYES" lol.

Anyways, thank you.

The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: That Word Again...Tarot

Hey, for the origin of "tarocchi", don't forget this one. I reproduce part of a page from the Aldine Venice 1497 Greek-Latin Lexicon (Lexicon Graeco-Latinum), by Giovanni Castoni. It shows two "tarach-" (tau alpha rho alpha chi) words, defined as "pertubatio" and "turba, turbatio". The first of these Latin definitions, according to Wictionary, means "confusion, disturbance, disorder, commotion, revolution, perturbation, passion"; "turbatio" means "confusion, disturbance". These meanings are in line with the 16th century Italian meaning of "taroccare" (see Andrea Vitali's essays for numerous examples, e.g. Andrea theorizes that the word got applied to the card game because of how worked up card players got. And also "Matto" means "crazy", which is similar, and so is in line with it's being the "game of the Fool."

I reproduce here all the "tar-" entries, in case I missed anything. I got the scan by email from the University of Texas Ransom Center Library, which has the original 1497 book.

In English, the words "ataraxia", meaning "calmness", and "ataractic", calm, come from the same root ( According to the source just given, the root-word also existed in Latin as a borrowing from Greek.

Re: That Word Again...Tarot

mikeh wrote:Hey, for the origin of "tarocchi", don't forget this one ... It shows two [Greek] "tarach-" (tau alpha rho alpha chi) words, defined as "pertubatio" and "turba, turbatio". ... In English, the words "ataraxia", meaning "calmness", and "ataractic", calm, come from the same root ( According to the source just given, the root-word also existed in Latin as a borrowing from Greek.
Ataraxia is also the highest state a Stoic can achieve, after mastering all the virtues and triumphing over all of life's disturbances. Perhaps one of the triumphs is the player's over chance. Machiavelli is often described as someone who deliberately and self consciously adopted the Republican/Stoic ethos of 1st Century BC Rome; how much does this apply to run of the mill, card playing courtiers?

tarocch = tree/blockhead

Ludovic is figured as a mulberry tree on the Frontpiece of the 1490 translation into Italian of The Life of Francesco Sforza. The emblem as signifying Ludovic is used in the poem Orlando Furioso by Ariosto:

See! he twelfth Lewis from the hills descend,
And with Italian scouts his army bend
T’uproot the mulberry, and the lily place
In fruitful fields where rul’d Visconti’s race

The twelfth Lewis = Louis XII King of France (lily) and enemy of Ludovic Sforza (mulberry). In league with pope Alexander VI, the Venetians and Ferrance King of Spain he sought to drive Ludovico from government. Ludovic fled to the emperor in Germany seeking to raise an army, leaving the defence of Milan to Bernadin di Costi, who promptly sold it to the French; for which betrayal it is said the French called the traitor card of the Tarocchi after Bernadino di Corte:

For example Benadino di Corte who sold the city of Milan to the French on the 14th of September 1499 after Ludovico had left to raise an army. Ludovico had a shame painting made of Bernadino, of whom he said "Since the days of Judas Iscariot there has never been so black a traitor as Bernadino di Corte." It is also said the French themselves called the traitor Tarocchi card 'Bernadino di Corte'.*

(*"Narra il Porcacchi, che i Francesi stessi, giocando a'Tarocchi , nel dar la carta del traditore dicevano: "do Bernardino da Corte."

Saying after Plutarch "I love the treason but do not praise the traitor" Proditionem amo, sed proditorem non laudo).
end quote: ... stcount=42

The quote of the French naming the traitor card after Bernadino can be found in several 18th and 19th century Italian and German books, and the primary source of all of them seems to be the 16th century mapmaker and cartographer Tomaso Porcacchi da Castiglio Aretino, who also illustrated some allegories for the poem 'Orlando Furioso' by Ludovico Ariosto.

From what I can make out the story of Bernadino appears in book 4 of "Giudicio di Tommaso Porcacchi, la vita del Guicciardini descritta da Remigio Fiorentino, dediche al conte Leonardo Valmarana e a Cosimo de' Medici." That is contained in the History of Italy divided into 20 books, by GUICCIARDINI FRANCESCO written between 1537 and 1540 and first published in 1561. (Note this information is from sources in languages other than English which I may have misunderstood and need verification by someone with greater knowledge of Italian and German).

Michael Dummett in "The Visconti-Sforza Tarot Cards" lists among several examples of shame paintings that ordered by Lodovica Sforza of Bernadino da Corte, as mentioned by 'catboxer' in an old thread on the subject here:

Sforza calling Bernadinno 'never so black a traitor since Judas Iscariot' is in 'Leonardo Da Vinci' by Maurice W. Brockwell (F.A. Stokes co, 1908) available as a Gutenberg Ebook:


"In 1499 the stormy times in Milan foreboded the end of Ludovico's
reign. In April of that year we read of his giving a vineyard to
Leonardo; in September Ludovico had to leave Milan for the Tyrol to
raise an army, and on the 14th of the same month the city was sold by
Bernardino di Corte to the French, who occupied it from 1500 to 1512.
Ludovico may well have had in mind the figure of the traitor in the
"Last Supper" when he declared that "Since the days of Judas Iscariot
there has never been so black a traitor as Bernardino di Corte." On
October 6th Louis XII. entered the city. Before the end of the year
Leonardo, realising the necessity for his speedy departure, sent six
hundred gold florins by letter of exchange to Florence to be placed
to his credit with the hospital of S. Maria Nuova."
end quote: ... stcount=59

Pursuing this french version of a tarocchi appropriati like game I ask myself, if the french associated Costi with the tarocchi traitor, with which card would they associate il moro? I would say it is feasable that il moro would be il matto, and we are very close then to il moro (the mulberry tree, Ludovic Sforza) as this tarocch (tree) who was a blockhead (tarocch) for entrusting Milan to Costi, the traitor (of the tarocch).

In the frontpiece of the Italian translation of The Life of Francesco Sforza, 1490, in which il moro is portrayed as a mulberry tree, he is also shown with a gold disc with the letter M in it - which some french or papal wit of the time in making such tarocchi appropriati may read as M for Matto (it is indeed a bit like the M on the back of the 19th century soprafino matto).

So then the word Tarocch would have arisen from a form of appropriati - in which persons connected with the french occupation of Milan are identifed with the trumps... in particular Ludovic the tree il moro with il matto (= tarocch as both tree and blockhead) c. 1499 - 1505? Also, as well as possibly being considered a 'blockhead' for entrusting Milan to a traitor who sold it to the french; he was indeed 'uprooted' from govenment, and thus, like the fool of the tarocchi, here, there and everywhere, has no place, no rank.

See! he twelfth Lewis from the hills descend,
And with Italian scouts his army bend
T’uproot the mulberry, and the lily place
In fruitful fields where rul’d Visconti’s race.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: That Word Again...Tarot

Already in 1550 "Tarot" was considered a word with unknown etymology.

From Alberto Lollio's "Invettiva contra il Giuoco del Taroco" (Invective against the game of Tarot) (1550):
"E quel nome fantastico e bizzarro di Tarocco, senz'etimologia,..."
("And the great and whimsical name of Tarot, without etymology, ...")

Taken from:
Michael Dummett
"Il mondo e l'angelo: i tarocchi e la loro storia" (1993)

And this uncertainty was the situation few years after the invention of the Tarot!!!
Dark Tarot: Free Tarot Reading

Re: That Word Again...Tarot

Hi E.R. I totally agree with you....we are expected to agree with some facts, but not with others. A hundred years or a little more- someone forms the reason for the the trumping order and what card trumps the next, and they also say the name is nonsensical. Now in one hundred or so years a popular game that has a name that is unknown is pretty unusual. Most games seem to have 'an understandibilty' and a locatable name History. Ludo apparently comes from the latin name for dice for example. They say "Minchiate" comes from a dialect word meaning nonsense and a very similiar word in Italian is 'minchionare' which means to make fun of something. It seems likely that there might be some correlation of a pun....that is why I opened the thread with "What if...." so speak with the eyes seems just as possible as anything else. The curious mix of Latin and local languages formed Italian and all other romance languages so a play on this mix seems as likely as other words like cauliflower- Cavofiore- Hollow flower or cave flower. We might never know for sure.........but I have never seen a 'Fools' game.Who wants to win at a Fools game? Why not stick with Trionfi or Triumphs if that is what Tarot was in the beginning?
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts