The 'other' meaning of Minchiate...


Well, an odd question this.

I made a start on unpicking the rules for minchiate today and read a comment I had completely forgotten about. Michael Dummett mentions that in some regions, today perhaps most regions in Italy, the term 'minchiate' has an obscene connotation. Because of this people reverted to calling it a derivation of its former name, Germini. Of course, Dummett is a little too polite to mention what the connotation is.

But, damn it, the question is bugging me!

If anyone does know what this mysterious connotation is, could they perhaps enlighten me in a private message (I don't want to be the cause of any offence if it really is that obscene).

Sorry to be asking this....but it is sort of research. Honest.


How sweetly decorous of him.

Minchiate (pronounced minkiartay, by the way) comes from sicilian minchia, male organ, penis...............

Happy now })

(signed: she of the filthy mind....)

ed. Oh, OK, thanks for the less decorous version !!!!! I LIKE. (Must look at that site some more !)


Ahhhh. Not so bad. Thanks for the enlightenment!

I can rest easy and go back to making sense of these rules. Soooo many trumps with sooo many group names and declarations. Going to be tricky to put it into a form that doesn't scare people away.


Oh, and gregory, thanks for the pronounciation - I had it all wrong!


I must remember this the next time I loose my temper. The sound and meaning just make it so much more poetic when you are telling someone off.})


"Minchiate" is first recorded in a letter of the poet Luigi Pulci 1466 to his young friend Lorenzo de Medici. Then already it's name of a cardgame (the expression reappeared 1471 and 1477 as such. Pulci himself used in poems twice words, which have the same base .... minchia .... , which in Internet appeared in poems of Pulci and only were used by Pulci and nobody else, so likely were word-creations by Pulci (actually it's our -'s - suspicion, that Pulci had something to do with the invention of Minchiate).

Minchiatar appeared in a poem-context ca. 1440 of Burchiello (poet in Florence as Pulci). Minchiatar seems in this context to have been a contrasting word to triumph as an opposite term.

Generally the minchia- base goes to words, which show a foolish sense.

Looking at the construction of Minchiate:

40 number cards ... mirrored by
40 trumps
16 court cards
1 Fool
97 cards

... one sees, that this construction equates the important looking Trionfi cards somehow ranked as the low number-cards.
The Fool and the court cards look as more important.

Florence was a republic and the Trionfi cards (which became the Tarot cards later) were a product of the nobility (Florentians had a distance to such people, for instance it was a problem to marry somebody of noble descendance in this time ... just for somebody of Florence, cause the other inhabitants would become suspicious about him). So one might suspect, that at the origin of Minchiate laid a proud Republican statement, just "fooling" the noble class and their Trionfi game.

Indeed we've some Fool representations with clear sexual associations: Especially the Charles VI fool - just following the Italian penis-associations and the d'Este-cards-Fool.


See also : (rermake of Charles VI)

At the d'Este the guys really want to know about details ...

One has to reflect: also the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-Fool had no trousers, although there the representation stayed less direct. Perhaps one has to reflect, that Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi was produced before 1466 - before Pulci's letter -, and that Este and Charles VI cards likely were produced after Pulci's letter - and renaissance did change it's character in the
1460/70's from less direct to more direct in sexual bodies (more naked bodies in art).

Well, we don't know for sure, if Minchiate had in 1466 already 40 trumps and we don't know, how these cards looked like and how the connected fools were painted.
Florence had in the time of Savonarola (- 1498) a period, when playing cards and other items of art were burnt. Possibly that's the reason, why we don't know any cards from Florence. Savonarola had enough time, a few years, to make them disappear.


Gerson and obscene images

Please take with caution, but.

A famous ecclesiastic scholar called Jean Gerson, complains about people in Paris when he was the university chancellor, having a craze for buying and selling obscene pictures, even in the churches and on holy days. He mentions 'Bel Phegor - the deity of ordure rather than ordo.

An eminent specialist recently said he thought this referred to images from the Roman de la Rose. One must put his opinion before mine, but at the same time, I am inclined to think these a kind of pilgrimage token, and we do have tokens in other media showing 'pilgrims' as male, and as female organs.

For quite other reasons, I already think that our cards developed among the constant 'peregrinos' of the long trade routes.


A synonym is cazzo, which as well as 'prick' means a fool and a nothing. Here are a few verses from a noble little ditty by the 2nd Earl of Rochester:

Our dainty fine duchesses have got a trick
To dote on a fool for the sake of his prick,
The fops were undone did their graces but know
The discretion and vigour of Signior Dildo...

...He civilly came to the Cockpit one night,
And proferred his service to fair Madam Knight.
Quoth she, 'I intrigue with Captain Cazzo
Your nose in mine arse, good Signior Dildo.'

This signior is sound, safe, ready, and dumb
As ever was candle, carrot, or thumb
Then away with these nasty devices, and show
How you rate the just merit of Signior Dildo.

Count Cazzo, who carries his nose very high,
In passion he swore his rival should die
Then shut himself up to let the world know
Flesh and blood could not bear it from Signior Dildo.

On Nothing

Whist weighty Something modestly abstains
From princes' coffers, and from statesmen's brains,
And Nothing there like stately Nothing reigns,
Nothing, who dwellest with fools in grave disguise,
For whom they reverend shapes and forms devise,
Lawn sleeves, and furs, and gowns, when they like thee look wise.
French truth, Dutch prowess, British policy,
Hibernian learning, Scotch civility,
Spaniard's dispatch, Dane's wit are mainly seen in thee.
The great man's gratitude to his best friend,
King's promises, whore's vows, towards thee they bend,
Flow swiftly to thee, and in thee never end.



Please note that Minchiate is not the same as Minchia.

Minchiate (singular Minchiata) literally means "Things that have to do with the Minchia".

Less literally, it means "something stupid or unimportant that is said or done". E.g. "Non dire minchiate" / "don't say minchiate" (same as "Che minchia dici?") "Non fare minchiate" / "don't do minchiate" (same as "Che minchia fai?").

According to this dictionary the world "Minchia" is of Latin origin. "Mingere" is Latin for "to urinate". This sounds convincing to me.