from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A disease such as chickenpox or smallpox, characterized by purulent skin eruptions that may leave pockmarks.
  • noun Syphilis.
  • noun Misfortune or calamity.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A disease characterized by eruptive pocks or pustules upon the body.
  • To communicate the pox or venereal disease to.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To infect with the pox, or syphilis.
  • noun (Med.) Strictly, a disease by pustules or eruptions of any kind, but chiefly or wholly restricted to three or four diseases, -- the smallpox, the chicken pox, and the vaccine and the venereal diseases.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun pathology A disease characterized by purulent skin eruptions that may leave pockmarks.
  • noun Syphilis.
  • verb transitive, dated To infect with the pox, or syphilis.

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

  • noun a common venereal disease caused by the treponema pallidum spirochete; symptoms change through progressive stages; can be congenital (transmitted through the placenta)
  • noun a contagious disease characterized by purulent skin eruptions that may leave pock marks


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

[Alteration of pocks, from Middle English, pl. of pocke, pokke; see pock.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English pokkes, plural of the ancestor of pock (which see).


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  • William Turner (1775 -1851) wrote a piece for recorder called "A pox on repining" - Can anyone enlighten me as to what this means??

    November 3, 2010

  • Well, to repine is to be sad, or to yearn. And the phrase "a pox on" is basically used to curse something. So I'll guess that a modern English translation might be "to hell with sadness and yearning."

    Though if it's a jaunty little dance number, I'm probably wrong.

    November 3, 2010

  • There are many poxviruses in nature, and they infect species that gather in swarms and herds, circulating among them like pickpockets at a fair. There are two principal kinds of pox viruses: the poxes of vertebrates and the poxes of insects. Pox hunters have so far discovered mousepox, monkeypox, skunkpox, pigpox, goatpox, camelpox, psuedocowpox, buffalopox, gerbilpox, several deerpoxes, chamoispox, a couple of sealpoxes, turkeypox, canarypox, pigeonpox, starlingpox, peacockpox, sparrowpox, juncopox, mynahpox, quailpox, parrotpox, and toadpox. There's mongolian horsepox, a pox called Yaba monkey tumor, and a pox called orf. There's dolphinpox, penguinpox, two kangaroopoxes, raccoonpox, and quokkapox. (The quokka is an Australian wallaby.) Snakes catch snakepox, spectacled caimans suffer from spectacled caimanpox, and crocodiles get crocpox. . . .

    Insects are tortured by poxviruses. There are three groups of insect poxviruses: the beetlepoxes, the butterflypoxes (which include the mothpoxes), and the poxes of flies, including the mosquitopoxes. And attempt to get to the bottom of the insect poxes would be like trying to enumerate the nine billion names of God.

    . . .

    . . . The insect poxes may have arisen in early Devonian times, long before the age of dinosaurs . . . and the first insects were evolving. . . .

    At least two known midgepoxes torment midges. Grasshoppers are known to suffer from at least six different grasshopperpoxes. If a plague of African locusts breaks out with locustpox, the plague is hit with a plague, and is in deep trouble. Poxviruses keep herds and swarms of living things in check, preventing them from growing to large and overwhelming their habitats.

    Richard Preston, The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story (New York: Random House, 2002), pp. 64-66

    February 16, 2016