link. I think Martha would be pleased to hear of anyone's efforts on this front.
But to stick to the purported mission of this blog, what is 'tantrum', etymologically speaking? If I were to go by the results of my own recent post on tantamount, we might guess that it means something like "so much rum". But as we are dealing, usually, with children, or at least a childish behavior, I don't think that can be right. Shall we see?
...Well, I've been a bit stymied on finding more information on that front. Pretty much everywhere I look, including the OED, the verdict is 'etymology unknown'. And I'm not even getting much in the way of the wayward theory, quite frankly. But as I'm not left quite emptyhanded, here are the findings so far: Some people have tried to link it to "tantra", which might sound plausible for a second, but "tantra" actually comes from the weaving world and means "loom" or "warp" and so by extension comes to mean the groundwork or system or doctrine, which doesn't seem to be much help.
A book that Google has scanned, The Gaelic Etymology of the Languages of Western Europe by Charles MacKay, has some other leads. It describes tantrum as "a fit of ill-temper" and then cites one Jamieson, with "tantrums, high airs". It then leads us to the idea of tantrums as "pranks, capers", which is said to have come from the tarantula dance. The dictionary goes on to suggest "See the account of the involuntary frenzy and motions caused by the bite of the tarantula in the Penny Cyclopedia."
Uh, no thanks. Does anyone else feel that we are getting progressively further afield?
However, just at the end, there is one entry that intrigues me:
"Gaelic--Deann, hot, impetuous, fiery; trom, heavy: whence, deann-trom, a hot and heavy [fit of] passion."
Now this, if I was a betting sort, is where I'd lay my etymological money.
Remember--one trauma America. The rest is up to you.