scur·​vy | \ ˈskər-vē How to pronounce scurvy (audio) \

Definition of scurvy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C and characterized by spongy gums, loosening of the teeth, and a bleeding into the skin and mucous membranes



Definition of scurvy (Entry 2 of 2)

: arousing disgust or scorn : contemptible, despicable a scurvy trick

Other Words from scurvy


scurvily \ ˈskər-​və-​lē How to pronounce scurvy (audio) \ adverb
scurviness \ ˈskər-​vē-​nəs How to pronounce scurvy (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for scurvy


contemptible, despicable, pitiable, sorry, scurvy mean arousing or deserving scorn. contemptible may imply any quality provoking scorn or a low standing in any scale of values. a contemptible liar despicable may imply utter worthlessness and usually suggests arousing an attitude of moral indignation. a despicable crime pitiable applies to what inspires mixed contempt and pity. a pitiable attempt at tragedy sorry may stress pitiable inadequacy or may suggest wretchedness or sordidness. this rattletrap is a sorry excuse for a car scurvy adds to despicable an implication of arousing disgust. a scurvy crew of hangers-on

Examples of scurvy in a Sentence

Adjective after winning the lottery, she was beset by a whole scurvy swarm of con artists, ne'er-do-wells, and hangers-on
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Bred to be early-maturing, compact, efficient under low light, resilient in low-pressure environments, and to pack three times the Vitamin C of an orange to prevent scurvy. Melanie Canales, Wired, 21 Dec. 2021 Britain’s soldiers and sailors died by the hundreds from yellow fever and scurvy. Washington Post, 10 Nov. 2021 As the men march inland, The Terror alternates between Tuunbaq’s jump scares and the body horror of scurvy, while a caulker named Cornelius Hickey (Adam Nagaitis) foments mutiny. Bathsheba Demuth, The Atlantic, 22 Sep. 2021 Arriving in India wan and scurvy after a year at sea, many quickly succumbed to disease, madness, or one of the innumerable little wars that the company fought in order to embed itself on the subcontinent. Christopher De Bellaigue, The New York Review of Books, 11 June 2020 Early in 2001, scurvy broke out in western Afghanistan. Steve Coll, The New Yorker, 5 Sep. 2021 For all who were able to stomach them, penguin and seal steaks reversed the effects of scurvy. Julian Sancton, Time, 12 May 2021 Aisha developed scurvy-like symptoms, and was beginning to lose three teeth after months of poor nutrition. Natalie Musumeci, Fox News, 1 May 2021 Scientists also found that infections, trauma, scurvy or rickets had triggered periostitis—chronic swelling and pain—to form in Waal’s arm bones. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective James Lind conducted his scurvy trial on a British ship during the War of Austrian Succession. Tom Moon, Forbes, 29 Oct. 2021 Of all the horrors of a 19th-century European voyage to the Arctic—noses and cheeks turned necrotic by frostbite, snow blindness, sea madness, broken bones badly knit—perhaps most ghastly was scurvy. Bathsheba Demuth, The Atlantic, 22 Sep. 2021 Like scurvy, beriberi can be found in people who lack fresh food. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 May 2021 The oils in caribou, fish, walrus, seal, and other meats the Inuit ate contain enough vitamin c for humans to keep scurvy at bay, as long as they’re not overcooked. Julian Sancton, Time, 12 May 2021 Without it, scurvy develops, and hair, gums, skin, muscles and bones all start to unravel. John J. Ross, WSJ, 30 Oct. 2020 For polar explorers, the most common malady wasn’t scurvy or starvation. David James, Anchorage Daily News, 26 Sep. 2020 The earliest signs of scurvy include weakness, fatigue, and aching limbs, per the GARD—but after about three months of vitamin C deficiency, more serious symptoms like anemia, gum disease, and skin hemorrhages can crop up. Leah Groth,, 20 Aug. 2020 Listen to the full interview below (scurvy segment begins around the 8:30-mark). Rachel Yang,, 20 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scurvy.' 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 scurvy


circa 1565, in the meaning defined above


1579, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for scurvy

Adjective and Noun


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Time Traveler for scurvy

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The first known use of scurvy was circa 1565

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Dictionary Entries Near scurvy



scurvy grass

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Statistics for scurvy

Last Updated

7 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Scurvy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for scurvy



English Language Learners Definition of scurvy

: a disease that is caused by not eating enough fruits or vegetables that contain vitamin C


scur·​vy | \ ˈskər-vē How to pronounce scurvy (audio) \

Kids Definition of scurvy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C in which the teeth loosen, the gums soften, and there is bleeding under the skin


scurvier; scurviest

Kids Definition of scurvy (Entry 2 of 2)


scur·​vy | \ ˈskər-vē How to pronounce scurvy (audio) \
plural scurvies

Medical Definition of scurvy

: a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C and characterized by spongy gums, loosening of the teeth, and bleeding into the skin and mucous membranes

called also scorbutus

More from Merriam-Webster on scurvy

Nglish: Translation of scurvy for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about scurvy


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