kwash·​i·​or·​kor ˌkwä-shē-ˈȯr-kər How to pronounce kwashiorkor (audio) -ȯr-ˈkȯr How to pronounce kwashiorkor (audio)
: severe malnutrition in infants and children especially of impoverished regions caused by a diet low in protein

Examples of kwashiorkor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Meanwhile, Calvin’s lack of protein had swollen his abdomen and legs, a particular type of malnutrition called kwashiorkor. Julia Michie Bruckner, Discover Magazine, 13 Nov. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'kwashiorkor.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Ga (Kwa language of coastal Ghana) kwàṣìɔkɔ́ influence a child is said to be under when a second child comes

First Known Use

1935, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of kwashiorkor was in 1935

Dictionary Entries Near kwashiorkor

Cite this Entry

“Kwashiorkor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


kwash·​i·​or·​kor ˌkwäsh-ē-ˈȯr-kər How to pronounce kwashiorkor (audio)
: a disease of young children resulting from not getting enough protein to eat

Medical Definition


kwa·​shi·​or·​kor ˌkwäsh-ē-ˈȯr-kȯr How to pronounce kwashiorkor (audio) -ȯ(r)-ˈkȯr How to pronounce kwashiorkor (audio)
: severe malnutrition chiefly affecting young children especially of impoverished regions that is characterized by failure to grow and develop, changes in the pigmentation of the skin and hair, edema, fatty degeneration of the liver, anemia, and apathy and is caused by a diet excessively high in carbohydrate and extremely low in protein compare pellagra

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