One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Infestation with lice; (in later use) specifically infestation with pubic (crab) lice (Phthirus pubis).
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in Thomas Elyot (c1490–1546), humanist and diplomat. From classical Latin phthīriāsis infestation with lice from ancient Greek ϕθειρίασις from ϕθειριᾶν to be infested with lice (from ϕθείρ louse: see note) + -σις.
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