trattoria (n.) "Italian restaurant," 1832, from Italian trattoria,
from trattore "host, keeper of an eating house,"
from trattare "to treat," from Latin tractare, frequentative of
trahere (past participle tractus) "to draw" (see tract (n.1)).

I ask only about the 3rd bolded line above.
How did a frequentative of "to draw", evolve to mean "to treat"?
Please expose and explain the connecting notions and hidden semantic drifts. How should the etymology be interpreted, to connect the Latin etymon with the subsequent Italian acceptation?

  • 5
    I can't answer, but all the dictionaries I have at hand (Zingarelli, Treccani, Battisti-Alessio) claim instead that Italian trattore (in this sense) comes from French traiteur. This in turn apparently comes from Latin, but it seems that the semantic drift happened somehow in the French-speaking world. Moreover, Fanfani and Arlìa in their Lessico dell'infima e corrotta italianità describe how «dalla Senna ci sia venuto diritto diritto Trattòre, figliuòlo legittimo di Monsieur Traiteur». Could this be a question for french.stackexchange.com?
    – DaG
    Oct 2, 2015 at 8:16
  • 2
    According to Lewis and Short there are many more meanings of traho.
    – egreg
    Oct 4, 2015 at 22:31
  • 1
    Trattare is like "aspettare" (English "expect") - Italian does not like the hard sound of "-ct" (and most other sounds of that sort) and has mostly eliminated it in favour of "-tt". This has nothing to with "trattoria" being taken from French "traiteur", although "traiter" does come from "tractare" (see "Petit Littré).
    – user2236
    Feb 24, 2016 at 13:13

2 Answers 2


The verb "to draw" in that case means "to draw a weapon" that in Italian is "estrarre". As you can see from this online dictionary Olivetti, the word "estrarre" is near to "tirare fuori" that means "to take something out". In Italian (as in English) you can create words from verbs (ex in English: to love ---> lover) in Italian (and in Latin) that word is in the same case of the past participle of the verb ---> traho, trahis, traxi, TRACTUM, trahere = "to pull"...so how to call "something made pulling something (like a "track/road")"? We Latins can call it TRACTUS! And since "trahere" also means "to draw something out", the action of "drawing out" ideals and putting them down on a "imaginary track" can be called TRACTATUS. Tractatus in Italian is "trattato" with its verb "trattare" and its English translation "to treat". The words "trattore" and "trattoria" have little different origins: the princeps used to give a letter called "littera tractoria" to messengers. Tractare (yeah I know too many translations) means "to cure" or "to take care", in fact thanks to this letter the messengers could go to houses in the rural part of the city and "take care of themselves" with food and accomodation (exactly what happens in a trattoria).


A related word, closer to the latin origin, is 'trarre', which can evoke 'moving something continuously in space', (see 'trattore', tractor).
From there comes a nuance of 'managing', from which the meaning of treating carried by 'trattare'.
source: http://www.etimo.it/?term=trattare

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