This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Word To Use Today: ridotto.

Here's something frivolous for a winter's day (or a summer one for our friends in the Antipodes).

A ridotto is a ball - the sort with music to dance to. They were last truly popular under that name in the 1700s, but by all accounts they were fun: a chance to get dressed up, meet members of the opposite sex (and sneer at the get-up of those of the same sex).

Ridotti were also quite often in masquerade, that is, with everyone wearing masks. It must have been wonderful for anyone suffering from an outbreak of acne, but the opportunities for whispering gossip into exactly the wrong ear must have been quite tremendous.

Perhaps this is why they went out of fashion so soon. 

For myself, I rather regret them.

Word To Use Today: ridotto. (Google gets quite excited by this word: it's sure you mean something else:

Italian Risotto.png

Not one of these.)

This word ridotto comes from the Italian ridurre, meaning to close off or make private, but originally a ridotto was the foyer of a theatre, where refreshments were served during intervals. The Great Council of Venice opened its 'Ridotto,' a casino, in 1638 to try to close down illegal gambling clubs:

File:Pietro Longhi - The Ridotto in Venice - WGA13416.jpg
The Ridotto by Pietro Longhi

 but by 1774 it was closed again to 'preserve the piety, sound discipline and moderate behaviour of the citizens'.

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