(2 syl.). The principal character of Moliére's comedy so called. The original was the Abbé de Roquette, a parasite of the Prince de Condé. It is said that the name is from the Italian tartuffoli (truffles), and was suggested to Moliére on seeing the sudden animation which lighted up the faces of certain monks when they heard that a seller of truffles awaited their orders. Bickerstaff's play, The Hypocrite, is an English version of Tartuffe.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
More on Tartuffe from Infoplease: