Definition of elephantiasis
1 : enlargement and thickening of tissues; specifically : the enormous enlargement of a limb or the scrotum caused by obstruction of lymphatics by filarial worms (especially Wuchereria bancrofti)
2 : an undesirable usually enormous growth, enlargement, or overdevelopment <elephantiasis of the imagination>
Did You Know?
In Latin elephantiasis referred to a kind of leprosy in which the skin takes on the appearance of an elephant's hide. The word is still used in the medical field for various infectious skin diseases in which the affected part becomes grossly enlarged. The first known figurative use of "elephantiasis" is by English author George Meredith in a letter dated December 22, 1866. In that letter, he ribs an acquaintance for his exaggerated description of the size of a mackerel, telling him that he has "become the victim of a kind of mental elephantiasis."
Origin and Etymology of elephantiasis
New Latin, from Latin, a kind of leprosy, from Greek, from elephant-, elephas
First Known Use: 1562
Medical Definition of elephantiasis
: enlargement and thickening of tissues (as from chronic lymphedema); specifically : the enormous enlargement of a limb or the scrotum caused by obstruction of lymphatics by filarial worms of the genus Wuchereria (W. bancrofti) or a related genus (Brugia malayi)
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