Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A fatal progressive, degenerative neurological disease caused by a slow-acting virus, found in certain peoples of New Guinea and transmitted by cannibalism.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A chronic, progressive, fatal central nervous system disease found mainly among the Fore and neighboring peoples of New Guinea, caused by a prion that probably resembles the scrapie agent of sheep, transmissible to nonhuman primates, and believed to be transmitted by ritual cannibalism.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a progressive disease of the central nervous system marked by increasing lack of coordination and advancing to paralysis and death within a year of the appearance of symptoms; thought to have been transmitted by cannibalistic consumption of diseased brain tissue since the disease virtually disappeared when cannibalism was abandoned

Etymologies

Fore (language of eastern Papua New Guinea).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Fore, literally meaning ‘shaking death’. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • “In New Guinea, they had a disease called kuru, transmitted by eating the brains of their enemies.”

    State of fear

  • But even more gruesome, cannibals in New Guinea in the 1950s started dying of kuru, which is caused by eating contaminated human brain tissue.

    msnbc.com: Top msnbc.com headlines

  • In the middle of the 20th century, the Fore tribe of the Eastern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea was devastated by a CJD-like disease called kuru, which was passed on by mortuary feasts in which the brains of the dead were consumed.

    Gaea Times (by Simple Thoughts) Breaking News and incisive views 24/7

  • In the middle of the 20th century, the Fore tribe of the Eastern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea was devastated by a mad cow-like disease called kuru, passed on by mortuary feasts in which the brains of the dead were consumed.

    AustralianIT.com.au | Top Stories

  • A community in Papua New Guinea that suffered a major epidemic of a CJD-like fatal brain disease called kuru has developed strong genetic resistance to the disease, according to new research by scientists in the UK.

    We Blog A Lot

  • It was found that many of them suffered from a disease called "kuru", which they had contracted from eating human tissue.

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  • Even though they cooked the bodies before eating them, they still contracted a mysterious fatal illness called "kuru," akin to mad-cow disease.

    Readthehook.com - Current Articles

  • Less than 200 years ago, according to New Scientist, a member of the Fore was born with a gene mutation that protected against kuru.

    Boing Boing

  • The South Fore people of Papua New Guinea used to eat their dead relatives 'brains as a sign of respect, passing on the deadly prion disease kuru -- a relative of mad cow disease -- in the process.

    Boing Boing

  • Doctor-patient interaction models are shifting as doctors simultaneously try to educate their patients and try to explain for the 50th time that no, a tic in your eye does not mean you have kuru, now go home and get some rest.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » The Internet and Stupidity:

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Comments

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  • BSE!!! *runs*

    But you have to love the home URL of that site, the most compact I have ever come across: www.ck

    January 28, 2009

  • Are the prions mushed in with the "breadfruit"? And does this mean we should be talking about breadfruit spongiform encephalopathy?

    January 28, 2009

  • A Cook Islands term for breadfruit. Recipe ideas here.

    January 28, 2009

  • A more recent example of a similar disease.

    September 11, 2008

  • It turns out that snacking on the brains of your dead ancestors might not be such a great idea.

    January 22, 2008

  • Mad-human disease!

    September 25, 2007