One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An erotic dance performed (typically naked) by a number of prostitutes with or for a group of (prospective) clients.
Late 17th century; earliest use found in John Dryden (1631–1700), poet, playwright, and critic. Probably from ball + -um + rank + -um, after Latin nouns with this ending.
ballum rancum/ˈbaləm ˌraŋkəm/
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