cal·​en·​ture | \ ˈka-lən-ˌchu̇r How to pronounce calenture (audio) \

Definition of calenture

: a fever formerly supposed to affect sailors in the tropics

Did You Know?

In addition to being plagued by scurvy and homesickness, sailors of yore who dared the tropics also had calenture to worry about. Given a case of this fever they were likely to imagine that the sea was actually a green field and to leap into it. Our earliest evidence of the word in English is from the late 16th century. Such potent imagery destined the word for figurative use also. "Calenture" has its origins in a Spanish word of the same meaning, "calentura," which itself traces to Latin calēre, meaning "to be warm." Other words from "calēre" include "calorie," "cauldron," and "scald."

First Known Use of calenture

1582, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for calenture

Spanish calentura, from calentar to heat, from Latin calent-, calens, present participle of calēre to be warm — more at lee

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about calenture

Time Traveler for calenture

Time Traveler

The first known use of calenture was in 1582

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about calenture

Statistics for calenture

Cite this Entry

“Calenture.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 29 January 2020.

Comments on calenture

What made you want to look up calenture? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to assert without proof or before proving

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

January 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • image1642096650
  • Which is a synonym of bonhomie?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!