Share this entry

rheumatism Line breaks: rheuma|tism
Pronunciation: /ˈruːmətɪz(ə)m/

Definition of rheumatism in English:


[mass noun]
Any disease marked by inflammation and pain in the joints, muscles, or fibrous tissue, especially rheumatoid arthritis.
Example sentences
  • Previously, the condition was known by other names such as fibrositis, chronic muscle pain syndrome, psychogenic rheumatism and tension myalgias.
  • Whether it is rejuvenation, stress relief or treatment of any ailment like arthritis, rheumatism, frozen shoulders, back pain or skin disease, Ayurveda is claimed to be most effective.
  • The herb's anti-inflammatory aspirin-like chemicals mean it can also reduce fever and relieve the pain of rheumatism in muscles and joints.


Late 17th century: from French rhumatisme, or via Latin from Greek rheumatismos, from rheumatizein 'to snuffle', from rheuma 'stream': the disease was originally supposed to be caused by the internal flow of ‘watery’ humours.

  • People have been rheumatic in the sense of suffering from too much rheum, or watery discharge since the Middle Ages but doctors have only been diagnosing rheumatism in their patients since the 17th century. The disease was originally supposed to be caused by watery fluids in the body, and the word comes from Greek rheumatizein ‘to snuffle’, from rheuma ‘stream’.

Definition of rheumatism in:

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.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day haughty
Pronunciation: ˈhôdē
arrogantly superior and disdainful