Definition of phossy jaw in English:

Share this entry

phossy jaw

Pronunciation: /ˈfɒsi/


[mass noun] historical, informal
Gangrene of the jawbone caused by phosphorus poisoning.
Example sentences
  • Many of the women suffered from ‘phossy jaw’, a particularly nasty form of bone cancer caused by handling the yellow phosphorus used in match production.
  • Phossy jaw is a very distressing form of industrial disease.


Late 19th century: phossy by abbreviation of phosphorus necrosis, denoting gangrene of the jaw.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: phossy jaw

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.