One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Ulceration that spreads and destroys surrounding tissue; an ulcer of this nature.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in Thomas Gale (c1507–1567), surgeon. From classical Latin phagedaena kind of ulcer that eats away the flesh from ancient Greek ϕαγέδαινα from ϕαγεῖν to eat, devour + -έδαινα, suffix forming feminine nouns.
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