Definition of typhus in English:



mass noun
  • An infectious disease caused by rickettsiae, characterized by a purple rash, headaches, fever, and usually delirium, and historically a cause of high mortality during wars and famines. There are several forms, transmitted by vectors such as lice, ticks, mites, and rat fleas.

    Also called spotted fever
    • ‘The body louse, Pediculus humanus corporis, is a vector of epidemic typhus, trench fever, and relapsing fever.’
    • ‘Tito's government significantly raised the standard of health, eliminating diseases such as typhus, tuberculosis, and whooping cough.’
    • ‘To measles we can add smallpox, tuberculosis, malaria, typhus, typhoid, influenza and syphilis.’
    • ‘The concentration of so many men and camp followers promoted the outbreaks of cholera, diphtheria, dysentery, typhoid fever, typhus, bubonic plague - and venereal diseases.’
    • ‘All the British personnel have been vaccinated against diseases including typhus and yellow fever before being sent to Afghanistan, and since mid-March have been taking anti-malaria tablets.’
    • ‘Diseases such as smallpox, typhus, and tuberculosis had dire consequences, and these consequences were intensifying on Britain's increasingly crowded streets.’
    • ‘Body lice may transmit typhus and trench fever.’
    • ‘Among the diseases resulting from poor sanitation, unclean water and poor waste disposal are dysentery, cholera, typhus fever, typhoid, schistosomiasis and trachoma.’
    • ‘Common scourges found in the desert include plague, typhus, malaria, dengue fever, dysentery, cholera, and typhoid.’
    • ‘He joined the Royal Air Force as a medical officer and served in India, Burma, and Ceylon, where he encountered smallpox, plague, poliomyelitis, typhus, anthrax, malaria, and dysentery.’
    • ‘Rodents cost billions of dollars in lost crops each year, and some are carriers of human diseases such as bubonic plague, typhus, and Hanta fever.’
    • ‘The animals harbor the lice and fleas that spawn serious diseases such as typhus, trichinosis, and infectious jaundice.’
    • ‘By now, successive epidemics of smallpox and typhus - diseases unknown in Mexico prior to the arrival of the Europeans - were raging.’
    • ‘In the 19th century, doctors prescribed whisky or brandy for all kinds of fevers, from influenza and pneumonia to malaria, typhus and cholera.’
    • ‘Body lice are associated with severe systemic diseases such as typhus and trench fever.’
    • ‘Civil War surgeons recognized only one typhus disease: epidemic typhus spread by lice infected with Rickettsia prowazekii was documented to occur in army camps.’
    • ‘The people at this camp were usually killed by diseases like tuberculosis and typhus.’
    • ‘The principal recorded killers were smallpox, influenza, measles, typhoid, typhus, chickenpox, whooping cough, tuberculosis and syphilis.’
    • ‘Investigators who worked on cholera, typhus, yellow fever, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever sometimes died of the diseases they were working on.’
    • ‘The scenes from 19th century Edinburgh, with its multitude of epidemics of typhus, smallpox, plague, and other mysterious fevers, might still be seen in any part of the developing world.’


Mid 17th century: modern Latin, from Greek tuphos ‘smoke, stupor’, from tuphein ‘to smoke’.