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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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 Yezo, a novel tick-borne virus discovered in Japan, was blamed for febrile illnesses in two hospital patients. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper's Magazine, 23 Nov. 2021 The shooting of Blake, a now-30-year-old Black man, set off mass protests for racial justice here in August 2020 and added to an already febrile moment in cities nationwide following the murder of George Floyd. Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2021 His book presents the battle over Reconstruction primarily from the perspectives of Johnson and Douglass, in the process illuminating what was at stake in the febrile political climate of the postwar period. Randall Fuller, WSJ, 20 Aug. 2021 Cox's murder at the hands of a right-wing extremist came in the days leading up to the 2016 Brexit vote, an issue that has helped stoke divisions and a sometimes febrile mood. NBC News, 16 Oct. 2021 That’s a return to a theory of deliberate virus creation that has been abandoned by all but the most febrile conspiracy theorists. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 8 Oct. 2021 The conspiracy mongering about the drug has become increasingly febrile. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 31 Aug. 2021 For those diagnosed with febrile illness, most recover completely, but fatigue and weakness may last weeks or months. Alexandria Hein, Fox News, 2 Aug. 2021 The man in the fedora was Jack Ruby, the febrile strip-club owner and cop buff. Edward Kosner, WSJ, 30 July 2021

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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Last Updated

5 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Febrile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/febrile. Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for febrile



English Language Learners Definition of febrile

: including or caused by fever : feverish


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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