Definition of quartan in English:



  • [attributive] Denoting a mild form of malaria causing a fever that recurs every third day.

    • ‘He suffered for about eighteen months from the quartan fever which is a fever which recurs at approximately 72-hour intervals.’
    • ‘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…’
    • ‘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 quartus fourth (because, by inclusive reckoning, the fever recurs every fourth day).