One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
attributive 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
- ‘He suffered for about eighteen months from the quartan fever which is a fever which recurs at approximately 72-hour intervals.’
- ‘The Bishop was seized with a quartan ague and began to shake.’
- ‘As the criminal had a quartan fever, Fallopius wished to investigate the effects of opium on the paroxysms.’
- ‘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…’
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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