noun[mass noun] chiefly historical
- These coins were handed out as talismans by the monarch at a special ceremony to sufferers of the skin disease, scrofula (otherwise known as King's Evil).
- The coronation ceremony stressed his semi-spiritual quality, which seemed proven by the alleged power of the royal touch to cure the skin disease scrofula.
- Initially, the power to heal was applied to most all diseases, but was eventually applied primarily to scrofula - a form of tuberculosis that affects lymph nodes in the neck.
- Example sentences
- No king touched so much for the king's evil, that class of unpleasant glandular and scrofulous disorders that kings were reputed to be able to cure.
- And most of them were scrofulous and all of them were evil,
- When people claim to be reincarnated, for some reason, they tend to have been the Queen of Sheba, and not some scrofulous beggar.
screw from Late Middle English:
Pigs have curly tails like corkscrews, and the ultimate source of screw is Latin scrofa ‘a sow’, source also of scrofula (Late Middle English), a disease people thought breeding sows were particularly susceptible to. Scrofula was also called the King's Evil, because kings were traditionally thought to be able to cure it. Scrofa changed its meaning to ‘screw’ in Latin, and then altered its form as it passed through French and arrived in English in the late medieval period. The slang sense ‘to have sex’, dating from the early 18th century, is probably the source of screw up meaning ‘to mess up’, which started off in the Second World War. It was a US euphemism for f— up.
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