The Italian Origins of “Quarantine”

Mar 25, 2020 2051

File this under things you learn during a lockdown:  The word “quarantine” comes from the Italian word quaranta – forty. It is a term that was initially used to refer to ships that were kept at sea to ensure that there was no disease aboard.

The policy of “quarantine” was first used in Venice in 1377, which was then a major trading center for Europe. After suffering from its first bout with plague in 1361, the city began to hold ships for forty days if they were coming from plagued ports in other parts of the world.

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