One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Denoting a mild form of malaria causing a fever that recurs every third day.
Quartan malaria (or quartan ague) is caused by infection with Plasmodium malariae. Compare with tertian
- ‘I had a quartan ague which held me foure or five months, and had altogether disvisaged and altered my countenance, yet my mind held ever out, not onely peaceably but pleasantly…’
- ‘He suffered for about eighteen months from the quartan fever which is a fever which recurs at approximately 72-hour intervals.’
- ‘As the criminal had a quartan fever, Fallopius wished to investigate the effects of opium on the paroxysms.’
- ‘The Bishop was seized with a quartan ague and began to shake.’
Late Middle English: from Latin ( febris) quartana, based on Latin quartus ‘fourth’ (because, by inclusive reckoning, the fever recurs every fourth day).
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