Medical Dictionary

Pickwickian syndrome

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noun Pick·wick·ian syndrome \ (ˈ)pik-ˈwik-ē-ən- \

medical Definition of Pickwickian syndrome

:obesity accompanied by somnolence and lethargy, hypoventilation, hypoxia, and secondary polycythemia

Biographical Note for pickwickian syndrome

  • Pickwick play \ˈpik-ˌwik\, Samuel literary character. Pickwick is the title character in the novel The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1836–37) by Charles Dickens. In the novel one of the characters, Joe, is described as a “fat and red-faced boy in a state of somnolence.” The term Pickwickian syndrome was first used by C. S. Burwell in an article on the syndrome in 1956. The name was chosen because Dickens's description was the first description of the syndrome found in literature.

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