fe·​brile | \ ˈfe-ˌbrī(-ə)l 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

Hambidge says evidence shows the immune system may still be maturing during the second year of life, and febrile seizures caused by viruses naturally peak around 16 to 18 months. Tara Haelle, Scientific American, "Delaying Vaccines Increases Risks--with No Added Benefits," 2 June 2014 Kenneth Whyte brings to life these pioneering days of febrile dramas, dirty tricks, wild stunts and pure genius. Les Hinton, WSJ, "Five Best: Les Hinton on the Giants of the Press," 28 Dec. 2018 The art of guidance is always a delicate dance between realism and optimism, but a misstep in these febrile times can lead to a fall. John D. Stoll, WSJ, "Apple and the Art of Guidance," 5 Jan. 2019 This can’t be ruled out: Mrs. May’s deal could easily be rejected by squabbling politicians in the U.K.’s febrile political climate. Paul J. Davies, WSJ, "Why Global Finance Stopped Shouting About Brexit," 26 Nov. 2018 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

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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Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

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The first known use of febrile was in 1651

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More Definitions for febrile



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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