Definition of phossy jaw in English:

phossy jaw


mass nounhistorical, informal
  • Gangrene of the jawbone caused by phosphorus poisoning.

    • ‘Many of the women suffered from ‘phossy jaw’, a particularly nasty form of bone cancer caused by handling the yellow phosphorus used in match production.’
    • ‘Phossy jaw is a very distressing form of industrial disease.’


Late 19th century: phossy by abbreviation of phosphorus necrosis, denoting gangrene of the jaw.


phossy jaw