\ ˈyȯz How to pronounce yaws (audio) \

Definition of yaws

: a contagious tropical disease especially of children caused by a spirochete (Treponema pertenue) closely resembling the causative agent of syphilis and marked by infectious ulcerative skin lesions with later bone involvement

called also frambesia

Examples of yaws in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Today, syphilis and other conditions caused by the same bacterium, Treponema pallidum, such as yaws and bejel, are making a comeback, with millions of people infected every year. Charlotte Hartley, Science | AAAS, 13 Aug. 2020 One of the men had a strain of the virus that causes hepatitis B; another suffered from yaws, a syphilis-like bacterial infection of the skin, bones and cartilage. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 May 2020 Similar to syphilis, the same strain of yaws was previously identified in a 17th-century colonist of European descent, according to the researchers. Fox News, 1 May 2020 Her own research has led her to suspect that the treponema bacteria originated in the New World, manifesting as yaws and spread through skin-to-skin contact exposed by a warm climate. National Geographic, 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'yaws.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of yaws

1679, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for yaws

probably from an English-based creole of the Caribbean

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Cite this Entry

“Yaws.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yaws. Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for yaws


noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction
\ ˈyȯz How to pronounce yaws (audio) \

Medical Definition of yaws

: an infectious contagious tropical disease especially of children that is caused by a spirochete of the genus Treponema (T. pertenue) and that is characterized by a primary ulcerating lesion on the skin followed by a secondary stage in which ulcers develop all over the body and by a third stage in which the bones are involved Yaws is a chronic childhood infection spread by casual contact and causing long-lasting sores on the legs and and arms. In time this infection attacks the bones, leaving scars similar to those from syphilis.— John Noble Wilford Other threats came from organisms co-evolving with humans, including tapeworms and such bacteria as Treponema, the agent of syphilis, and the similar skin infection, yaws.— Roy Porter

called also frambesia, pian

More from Merriam-Webster on yaws

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for yaws

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about yaws


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