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

  • n. A tropical fever once believed to be caused by the heat.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A heat stroke or fever, often suffered in the tropics.
  • n. A delirium occurring from such symptoms, in which a stricken sailor pictures the sea as grassy meadows and wishes to dive overboard into them.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A name formerly given to various fevers occuring in tropics; esp. to a form of furious delirium accompanied by fever, among sailors, which sometimes led the affected person to imagine the sea to be a green field, and to throw himself into it.
  • intransitive v. To see as in the delirium of one affected with calenture.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A kind of delirium sometimes caused, especially within the tropics, by exposure to excessive heat, particularly on board ship.
  • n. Figuratively, fever; burning passion or zeal; heat: as, the “calenture of primitive devotion,” ; “the calentures of baneful lust,”


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

Spanish calentura, from calentar, to heat, from Latin calēns, calent-, present participle of calēre, to be warm; see kelə-1 in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle French calenture, from Spanish calentura.


  • Thus in the word calenture, nobody will deny that the first syllable is pronounced more emphatically than the others; but many will deny that it is longer in pronunciation.


  • Now she could understand, that "calenture" which he had sometimes jestingly alluded to, as coming upon him at times, when he felt literally sick for the sight of a green field or a hedge full of birds.

    Mistress and Maid. A Household Story.

  • English naval officers, amongst whom two fell victims to mangrove-oysters, and the rest to the deadly "calenture" of the lower Congo.

    Two Trips to Gorilla Land and the Cataracts of the Congo Volume 2

  • A mild fit of calenture seizes him, in which he deems that the ground so far below, is on a level with the tower, and would as lief walk off the tower into the air as not.

    The Mystery of Edwin Drood

  • The soldiers sank into deep, green moss that looked firm from a distance but proved treacherous underfoot, a kind of calenture on land, so that the madness suffered by sailors too long at sea, who hallucinated dry earth where there was no earth and drowned beneath the waves when they jumped, found its echo in ground that was soft and yielding as water.

    The Unquiet

  • THE dairy was certainly worth looking at: it was a scene to sicken for with a sort of calenture in hot and dusty streets — such coolness, such purity, such fresh fragrance of new-pressed cheese, of firm butter, of wooden vessels perpetually bathed in pure water; such soft colouring of red earthenware and creamy surfaces, brown wood and polished tin, grey limestone and rich orange-red rust on the iron weights and hooks and hinges.

    Adam Bede

  • There is no reason why a mind thus wandering in extasy should count the clock, or why an hour should not be a century in that calenture of the brains that can make the stage a field.

    Preface to Shakespeare

  • So long that we had thirty at a time sick of this _calenture_, which attacked our men, either by reason of the sudden change from cold to heat, or by reason of brackish water which had been taken in by our pinnace, through the sloth of their men in the mouth of the river, not rowing further in where the water was good.

    Sir Francis Drake Revived

  • One convoy carrying colonists to Virginia in 1609 and running a southerly course through "fervent heat and loomes breezes" had many of the crew and passengers fall ill from calenture (tropical or yellow fever).

    Medicine in Virginia, 1607-1699

  • The evidence relative to yellow fever, or calenture, during this period in Virginia is contradictory.

    Medicine in Virginia, 1607-1699


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • (noun) - (1) A distemper peculiar to sailors in hot climates wherein they imagine the sea to be green fields, and they throw themselves into it if not restrained.

    --Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, 1755

    (2) A species of furious delirium to which sailors are subject in the torrid zone; a kind of phrenitis, the attack of which comes on suddenly after a broiling day.

    --Robley Dunglison's Dictionary of Medical Science, 1844

    (3) From French calenture, heat; from Latin caleo, to be hot.

    --John Ridpath's Home Reference Library, 1898

    January 17, 2018

  • from Carlyle's "Sartor Resartus"

    January 11, 2009

  • "Tomorrow was the day when in all probability the Surprise, even at her present staid pace, would cut the tropic line, a point at which Stephen liked to bleed all those under his care as a precaution against calentures and the effects of eating far too much meat and drinking far too much grog under the almost perpendicular sun..."

    --Patrick O'Brian, The Far Side of the World, 120

    February 20, 2008

  • Title of my favourite Triffids album :-)

    November 20, 2007

  • calenture – a distemper peculiar to sailors in hot climates, wherein they imagine the sea to be green fields, and will throw themselves into it

    On this basis, sometimes the term is used metaphorically to mean the self-destructive urge, such as the urge, when at a great height, to throw oneself off:

    Few can look down from a great height without … vertigos and that aerial calenture which prompts them to jump from the pinnacle on which they are standing.

    – Wellsboro (PA) Agitator, Jan. 10, 1888

    'Tis but the raging calenture of love.

    … To walk, plunge in, and wonder that you sink.

    – Dryden, The Conquest of Granada (1670)

    November 19, 2007