fe·​brile | \ˈfe-ˌbrī(-ə)l also ˈfē- \

Definition of febrile 

: marked or caused by fever : feverish a febrile reaction caused by an allergy

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Did You Know?

Not too surprisingly, febrile originated in the field of medicine. We note its first use in the work of the 17th-century medical reformer Noah Biggs. Biggs used it in admonishing physicians to care for their "febrile patients" properly. Both feverish and febrile are from the Latin word for fever, which is febris. Nowadays, febrile is used in medicine in a variety of ways, including references to such things as "the febrile phase" of an illness. And, like feverish, it also has an extended sense, as in "a febrile emotional state."

Examples of febrile in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Now, just six months into his term as chancellor, Kurz is seizing a febrile moment in European politics to make himself into one of the continent’s true power players. Griff Witte, Washington Post, "As Merkel teeters, Austria’s Kurz seizes the moment as Europe’s ‘rock star of the new right’," 27 June 2018 One of those families is the picornavirus family, which is tied to the common cold, but also febrile illness, encephalitis, and a type of hepatitis. Megha Satyanarayana, STAT, "Drones are helping researchers figure out what viruses live in whales. Some are similar to ones in humans," 11 June 2018 Fuster unleashed his febrile imagination on his own home, turning it into a wonderland of mosaic and tile that recalls Nikki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "A Tour Of Havana’s Museums and Architecture Reveals The City’s Hidden History," 20 Apr. 2018 Memoir mixes with cultural history as a slideshow incorporates Bocanegra's arresting visual sensibility in a theatrical exhibition that doesn't so much set out to simulate her character as to tap into the wavelength of her febrile mind. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the farmhouse next door, and unexpected connections in between," 16 Apr. 2018 Trump is going to go after Mueller at some point because there is no other way for Trump’s febrile mind to make sense of the world. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Is Taking Out His Enemies And Turning Toward Robert Mueller," 17 Mar. 2018 In this febrile atmosphere, where every faction is watching every other faction to see who will blink first, Rees-Mogg has uses beyond the obvious. Robert Hutton, Bloomberg.com, "Rise of an English Gentleman Threatens the Hardest of Brexits," 6 Feb. 2018 Arthur Sullivan’s buoyant music is enlisted in helping the characters wrest free from the farcical jams cooked up by Gilbert’s febrile imagination. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "'Pirates of Penzance,' with a piña colada: Gilbert & Sullivan plays as interactive party," 26 Jan. 2018 But if continuity is one feature of Silicon Valley, febrile disruption is another. Stephen Phillips, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘Troublemakers: Silicon Valley’s Coming of Age,’ by Leslie Berlin," 3 Nov. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'febrile.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of febrile

1651, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for febrile

Medieval Latin febrilis, from Latin febris fever

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The first known use of febrile was in 1651

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English Language Learners Definition of febrile

medical : including or caused by fever


fe·​brile | \ˈfeb-ˌrīl also ˈfēb-\

Medical Definition of febrile 

: marked or caused by fever : feverish

More from Merriam-Webster on febrile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with febrile

Britannica English: Translation of febrile for Arabic Speakers

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