One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A 16th-cent. sword dance related to the morris dance, performed by dancers in extravagant costume and representing a fight or duel.
1Chiefly in Central America and the south-western United States: a person or character who takes part in a ritual dance based on the history of Montezuma II. Chiefly in plural.
2Frequently in plural, with singular concord. The ritual dance performed by matachin dancers.
Late 16th century. From Middle French, French † matachin kind of dance, kind of comic dancer and its etymon Italian mattaccino kind of dance, kind of comic dancer, buffoon from matto buffoon + -accino, pejorative diminutive suffix. Some 19th- and 20th-cent. examples represent secondary borrowings<br>mid 19th century. From American Spanish matachín (plural matachines) dancer in the ritual dance described below, specifically use of Spanish matachín. The word probably entered English in the plural form.
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