Definition of marasmus in US English:



  • Severe undernourishment causing an infant's or child's weight to be significantly low for their age (e.g., below 60 percent of normal).

    • ‘Cases of marasmus, which causes children to waste away, increased more than 50-fold.’
    • ‘HIV infection predisposes children to develop severe malnutrition, although this is more commonly manifest as marasmus than kwashiorkor.’
    • ‘Prevalence of clinical protein energy malnutrition in the form of marasmus was found in 6 children, while Kwashiorkor was not recorded.’
    • ‘Clinical impression of wasting of musculature of the limbs, but not severe enough to describe the child as suffering from marasmus was classified as emaciation.’
    • ‘Patients with marasmus present with severe weight loss and wasting of both muscle and adipose tissue.’


Mid 17th century: modern Latin, from Greek marasmos ‘withering’, from marainein ‘wither’.