Definition of typhus in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtīfəs/


An infectious disease caused by rickettsiae, characterized by a purple rash, headaches, fever, and usually delirium, and historically a cause of high mortality during wars and famines. There are several forms, transmitted by vectors such as lice, ticks, mites, and rat fleas. Also called spotted fever.
Example sentences
  • The concentration of so many men and camp followers promoted the outbreaks of cholera, diphtheria, dysentery, typhoid fever, typhus, bubonic plague - and venereal diseases.
  • Body lice may transmit typhus and trench fever.
  • To measles we can add smallpox, tuberculosis, malaria, typhus, typhoid, influenza and syphilis.



Pronunciation: /ˈtīfəs/
Example sentences
  • Dilutions of 1: 250 are still bacteriostatic against pathogenic streptococci and staphylococci, typhous, pneumococcus.
  • This unwillingness was not removed until his disease, which was a typhous fever, had so far advanced that his medical attendants deemed it too late to expect benefit from medication.
  • Various forms of the disease are known as adynamic, intermittent and remittent, typhous, rheumatic and epidemic dysentery; but it is not necessary to classify the disease under these heads.


Mid 17th century: modern Latin, from Greek tuphos 'smoke, stupor', from tuphein 'to smoke'.

  • stew from Middle English:

    When stew entered the language it referred to a cauldron or large cooking pot, not to what was being cooked in it. The source was Old French estuve, probably based on Greek tuphos ‘smoke or steam’, which is also where the fevers typhus (late 18th century) and typhoid (early 19th century) come from, because they create the kind of stupor that is associated with smoke inhalation. The verb ‘to stew’ originally referred to bathing in a hot bath or steam bath. It was not long before the idea of heating people in a bath had changed to heating food in an oven, specifically cooking a dish of meat and vegetables by simmering it slowly in a closed vessel. Stifle (Late Middle English) probably comes from the same Old French root, and stove (Middle English), originally a ‘sweating room’ in a steam bath, may be related. See also seethe

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ty·phus

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