AskDefine | Define teetotum

Dictionary Definition

teetotum n : a conical child's plaything tapering to a steel point on which it can be made to spin; "he got a bright red top and string for his birthday" [syn: top, whirligig, spinning top]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. A toy (top) similar to a dreidel.

Extensive Definition

A teetotum is a form of gambling top. It has a polygonal body marked with letters or numbers, which indicate the result of each spin. In its earliest form the body was square (in some cases via a stick through a regular six-sided die ), marked on the four sides by the letters A (Lat. aufer, take) indicating that the player takes one from the pool, D (Lat. depone, put down) when a fine has to be paid, N (Lat. nihil, nothing), and T (Lat. totum, all), when the whole pool is to be taken.
Joseph Strutt, who was born in 1749, mentions the teetotum as used in games when he was a boy.
Other accounts give such letters as P, N, D (dimidium, half), and H or T or other combinations of letters.
Other combinations of letters that could be found were:
NG, SZ, TA, TG, NH, ND, M.
Which stood for (In Latin):
ZS - Zona Salve, save all
TA - Tibi Adfer, take all
NH - Nihil Habeas, nothing left
LS - L (i.e., 50) Solve, save 50
ND - Nihil Dabis, nothing happens
Teetodum survives today as dreidel, a Jewish game played on Hanukkah.

References

Notes

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