tantrum

Today’s morning name. So obviously Latin, a 2nd-declension neuter noun. But apparently not; instead it’s a mystery.

OED2 on tantrum:

Etymology: Origin unascertained.
colloquial.
An outburst or display of petulance or ill-temper; a fit of passion. Frequently in plural. Now often spec. a fit of bad temper in a young child.
[1st cite: 1714 E. Verney Let. 30 Oct. in M. M. Verney Verney Lett. (1930) II. xxi. 18 Our lady has had some of her tanterums as Vapors comeing out etc. Then: 1754 S. Foote Knights  ii. 41 None of your Fleers!..Your Tantrums! You are grown too head-strong and robust for me.]

fleers? From NOAD:

verb fleer: [no object] literary laugh impudently or jeeringly: he fleered at us. noun archaic an impudent or jeering look or speech. ORIGIN late Middle English: probably of Scandinavian origin and related to Norwegian and Swedish dialect flira ‘to grin’

Etymology occasionally throws up mysteries like this one. If someone now wants to search collections of texts from the period, they might find some clues as to its source. It’s even possible that the noun doesn’t have an ordinary etymology, but was a mock-Latin invention. Whatever; ya gotta know the territory.

A sound association.The noun tantrum unavoidably clangs for me with the Latin adverb tantum ‘so great(ly)’. Not because I’m an avid Latinist, but because of a bit of memorized Latin from my high school years.

From my 11/25/15 posting “Tinnitus, tinnitus, semper tinnitus”:

the Latin translation of [“Jingle Bells] that I learned in high school, nearly 60 years ago. The part I still recall is the chorus:

Tinnitus, tinnitus, semper tinnitus
O tantum est gaudium dum vehimur in trahā

(the second line is, roughly, “O how great is the joy when we are carried in a sleigh’)

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