Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
April 13th, 2015
Episode 165 of 689 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 13, 2015 is: febrile \FEB-ryle\ adjective : marked or caused by fever : feverish Examples: The patient exhibited a rash and febrile symptoms that were consistent with a certain rare tropical infection. "Febrile seizures typically occur between the ages of 6 months and 6 years old. They happen when a fever spikes very quickly...." Vikki Ortiz Healy, Chicago Tribune, August 4, 2014 Did you know? Not too surprisingly, febrile originated in the field of medicine. We note its first use in the work of the 17th-century medical reformer Noah Biggs. Biggs used it in admonishing physicians to care for their "febrile patients" properly. Both feverish and febrile are from the Latin word for fever, which is febris. Nowadays, febrile is used in medicine in a variety of ways, including references to such things as "the febrile phase" of an illness. And, like feverish, it also has an extended sense, as in "a febrile emotional state."