We hit 40 days of staying home to self-quarantine yesterday and I just learned about the origin of the word, so let’s talk about that today. From Science Friday, The Origin Of The Word ‘Quarantine’:
Officials in the Venetian-controlled port city of Ragusa (now Dubrovnik, Croatia) passed a law establishing trentino, or a 30-day period of isolation for ships arriving from plague-affected areas. No one from Ragusa was allowed to visit those ships under trentino, and if someone broke the law, they too would be isolated for the mandatory 30 days. The law caught on. Over the next 80 years, Marseilles, Pisa, and various other cities adopted similar measures.
Within a century, cities extended the isolation period from 30 to 40 days, and the term changed from trentino to quarantino—the root of the English word quarantine that we use today.
Also, the more things change…
For others, especially those with money, quarantine could be optional. “There are people who are able to evade quarantine, there are people who were able to buy their way out of quarantine, there are people who were able to just leave when a quarantine was imposed and not come back until it was over,” says [science historian Karl] Appuhn. “So, the people who suffered under quarantine tended for the most part to be poor—people who had no choice.”