Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 8, 2021 is:

febrile • FEB-ryle  • adjective

: marked or caused by fever : feverish


“The best news, [Michael Schwab] said, is his daughter is healthy…. Her pediatrician later said she probably had roseola, a common childhood viral infection marked by a sudden fever accompanied by a febrile seizure that is typically harmless.” — Jenny Deam, The Houston (Texas) Chronicle, 27 Nov. 2020

“Continually, young men, singly or in groups, came from the doorway, wiping their lips with sidelong gestures of the hand. The whole place exhaled the febrile bustle of the saloon on a holiday morning.” — Frank Norris, The Octopus, 1901

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.”

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