Word of the Week (162): VERRUGA (probability 15251), by David Sutton

No, this is not another spelling of VERRUCA, the well-known plantar wart, but something different but related: a fever, endemic in Peru, of which one symptom is warty tumours. Both words come from Latin verruca, wart.

There are a good many words relating to fevers. A posh medical word for fever generally is PYREXIA. Then there are the different kinds of fever, such as VOMITO, the worst form of yellow fever, usually accompanied by black vomit, DENGUE, an acute tropical fever also known as BREAKBONE fever, PALUDISM, another word for malaria, from Latin palu, a marsh, RATBITE fever (note that RATBITE is adjectival only) and CALENTURE, a tropical fever or delirium caused by heat, which has been known to cause sailors at sea to jump overboard

Then there are several adjectives describing fevers which can also be used as nouns. Did you realise, for example, that you can suffer from a HECTIC, a hectic fever or flush, an ENTERIC, which is typhoid fever, or a BILIARY, biliary fever being a form of canine jaundice? Along with these we have TERTIAN, a fever with paroxysms every other day, QUARTAN, a fever occurring every third day, QUINTAN, a fever occurring every fourth day, SEXTAN, a fever occurring every fifth day, and OCTAN, a fever occurring every seven days. The observant among you will notice a lacuna here - if you get a fever occurring every six days, do tell medical science and maybe they'll get round to plugging the gap with SEPTAN*.


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