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

  • n. Any of several metabolic disorders marked by excessive discharge of urine and persistent thirst, especially one of the two types of diabetes mellitus.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A group of metabolic diseases whereby a person (or other animal) has high blood sugar due to an inability to produce, or inability to metabolize, sufficient quantities of the hormone insulin.
  • n. Diabetes insipidus, a condition characterized by excessive thirst and excretion of large amounts of severely diluted urine.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any of several diseases which is attended with a persistent, excessive discharge of urine; when used without qualification, the term usually refers to diabetes mellitus. The most common form is diabetes mellitus, in which the urine is not only increased in quantity, but contains saccharine matter, and the condition if untreated is generally fatal.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In pathology, the name of two different affections, diabetes mellitus, or persistent glucosuria, and diabetes insipidus, or polyuria, both characterized in ordinary cases by an abnormally large discharge of urine.

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

  • n. a polygenic disease characterized by abnormally high glucose levels in the blood; any of several metabolic disorders marked by excessive urination and persistent thirst


Middle English diabete, from Medieval Latin diabētēs, from Latin, from Greek, siphon, diabetes, from diabainein, to cross over, straddle : dia-, dia- + bainein, to go; see gwā- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Ancient Greek διαβαίνω (diabainō, "to pass through"), via the participle διαβήτης (diabētēs, "passing through"). This refers to the excessive amounts of urine produced by sufferers. (Wiktionary)



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  • 1560s, from medical L. diabetes, from late Gk. diabetes "excessive discharge of urine" (so named by Aretaeus the Cappadocian, physician of Alexandria, 2c.), lit. "a passer-through, siphon," from diabainein "to pass through," from dia- "through" (see dia-) + bainein "to go" (see come). An old native name for it was pissing evil. In classical Greek, diabainein meant "to stand or walk with the legs apart," and diabetes meant "a drafting compass," from the position of the legs.

    November 19, 2010