Definition of scurvy in English:



mass noun
  • A disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, characterized by swollen bleeding gums and the opening of previously healed wounds, which particularly affected poorly nourished sailors until the end of the 18th century.

    ‘the ravages of scurvy’
    as modifier ‘the curative effects on scurvy victims’
    • ‘Modern medicine categorizes diarrhea as a symptom of a disease, such as scurvy, typhoid, malaria, and dysentery, or as a symptom of indigestible substances in the intestines.’
    • ‘As we now know, oranges and lemons (and many other fruits and vegetables) are excellent sources of vitamin C, and scurvy is the disease resulting from severe vitamin C deficiency.’
    • ‘Overt vitamin deficiency diseases, such as pellagra or scurvy, are uncommon in persons who consume a typical North American diet.’
    • ‘This is an extremely low level, and it represents only the amount needed to prevent health problems such as scurvy, a vitamin deficiency disease.’
    • ‘A deficiency of vitamin C causes a disease called scurvy.’
    • ‘The plague, pneumonia, pleurisy, tuberculosis, smallpox, scurvy, the black lung, the yeasty oesophagus, the mildewed mouth; call it what you want just don't call it the common cold.’
    • ‘Ascorbic acid/vitamin C. Prolonged deficiency can result in scurvy, poor wound healing and bleeding gums.’
    • ‘So it's a little bit different to the sort of classic nutritional deficiency diseases, like scurvy, it seems to be slightly more complicated than that.’
    • ‘Mortality among women and small children had increased by 50 per cent and hunger-related diseases such as rickets, scurvy, and tuberculosis were endemic.’
    • ‘To complicate matters, most men suffered from multiple diseases, including dysentery, typhoid, scurvy, and pneumonia or other respiratory ailments.’


  • Worthless or contemptible.

    ‘that was a scurvy trick’
    • ‘Newbies from elsewhere, even though they have to learn the scurvy trade from scratch, at least don't have to shed bad journalistic habits.’
    • ‘Even scurvy land lubbers can talk like a pirate an’ not be called a stinkin’ bilge rat.’
    • ‘They just sit there, keelhauling any scurvy landlubber who ventures to walk on the rocks barefoot’
    • ‘Call me by that scurvy name one more time, and ye'll be walking the plank, I swear it!’
    • ‘And finally, there do be help available for ye landlubbers and scurvy dogs who can't talk like Pirates.’
    foul, nasty, unpleasant, bad, disagreeable, horrid, horrible, dreadful, abominable, atrocious, offensive, obnoxious, odious, unsavoury, repulsive, off-putting, repellent, revolting, repugnant, disgusting, distasteful, loathsome, hateful, nauseating, sickening
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Late Middle English (as an adjective meaning ‘scurfy’): from scurf + -y. The noun use (mid 16th century) is by association with French scorbut (see scorbutic).