fe·​brile | \ ˈfe-ˌbrī(-ə)l How to pronounce febrile (audio) also ˈfē- How to pronounce febrile (audio) \

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 Their febrile opposition to Mr Obama’s health-care reform, though it was modelled on one promulgated by Mr Romney, is one of many illustrations of this. The Economist, "Lexington Democrats set factionalism aside for the big push against Donald Trump," 22 Aug. 2020 Inevitably, the end result captures the febrile atmosphere as early voters head to the polls: one of his subjects, a 77-year-old woman with a car covered in Biden stickers, recounts her experiences of being heckled and threatened while driving. Liam Hess, Vogue, "Sinna Nasseri’s Photographic Odyssey Across America Concludes in New Mexico and Texas," 3 Nov. 2020 In this febrile moment in our politics, some on the left are rationalizing a military coup in the name of saving the republic. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 20 Aug. 2020 Trump cannot help himself, tweeting insults at the screen with a febrile desperation. David Remnick, The New Yorker, "Obama, Harris, and an Unconventional Convention," 20 Aug. 2020 The attacker had a history of violent crime, but to many in Gdańsk, the assassination reflected the febrile political climate that pitted their city’s vision of openness against the aggrieved nationalism and vitriol of the ruling party. National Geographic, "40 years after Solidarity, Gdańsk's rebellious spirit still inspires Poland," 11 Aug. 2020 The febrile creativity of a crowd united in anger helps imbue objects and images with meaning. The Economist, "Political branding A brief history of protest symbols, from cockades to raised fists," 17 June 2020 In Brazil -- home to South America's worst coronavirus outbreak, where as many as 50,000 new cases have been recorded per day -- the drug is at the heart of a febrile scrap over politics and faith. Eliza Mackintosh, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Thursday, July 30," 30 July 2020 But as governments have been preoccupied at home and distracted abroad, the virus has deepened geopolitical tensions—between America and China, above all—and worsened what was already a febrile international mood. The Economist, "Horsemen of the apocalypse Covid-19 raises the risks of violent conflict," 18 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for febrile

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The first known use of febrile was in 1651

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Last Updated

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Febrile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/febrile. Accessed 29 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for febrile


How to pronounce febrile (audio) How to pronounce febrile (audio)

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

Britannica English: Translation of febrile for Arabic Speakers

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