Definition of yaws in English:


plural noun

  • [treated as singular] A contagious disease of tropical countries, caused by a bacterium that enters skin abrasions and gives rise to small crusted lesions that may develop into deep ulcers.

    Also called frambesia
    • ‘If someone is suffering from yaws or trachoma, of course in your own small way you will try to help.’
    • ‘Writing about the ‘depopulation of primitive communities’ through ‘the introduction of new diseases,’ for example, Hutton claimed that the wearing of European clothes by Nagas led to ‘lung diseases… dysentery, itch and yaws.’’
    • ‘In addition, endemic diseases, such as yaws, and epidemic diseases, such as measles and smallpox, may have increased the incidence of stillbirths and miscarriages.’
    • ‘WHO also played a major coordinating role in controlling yaws in the late 1940s and onchocerciasis, leprosy, and polio in the past three decades.’
    • ‘Bush yaws is an infectious tropical disease resembling syphilis in its early stages; marked by red skin eruptions and ulcerating lesions in places such as the nose, mouth and ears.’
    • ‘And that was the area of some of the first campaigns, the mass campaigns for penicillin, the yaws eradication.’
    • ‘Diseases such as malaria were endemic, while blackwater fever, dengue fever, dysentery, yaws, and hookworms were a constant scourge.’
    • ‘One of the most common was mercury, which had been used by the Arabs for centuries to treat leprosy and yaws.’
    • ‘He worried obsessively about syphilis, which the yaws somewhat resembled; he pored over medical books underscoring lists of symptoms.’
    • ‘My favourite physician-turned-leader was, of course, Francois Duvalier, the legendary Papa Doc, a practising physician who as a country doctor tried to rid Haiti of the yaws.’
    • ‘Salversan also proved effective against other maladies such as yaws.’


Late 17th century: probably from Carib yaya.