from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Illness induced by exposure to ionizing radiation, ranging in severity from nausea, vomiting, headache, and diarrhea to loss of hair and teeth, reduction in red and white blood cell counts, extensive hemorrhaging, sterility, and death.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. Any illness produced by ionizing radiation with symptoms ranging from nausea through to death.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. syndrome resulting from exposure to ionizing radiation (e.g., exposure to radioactive chemicals or to nuclear explosions); low doses cause diarrhea and nausea and vomiting and sometimes loss of hair; greater exposure can cause sterility and cataracts and some forms of cancer and other diseases; severe exposure can cause death within hours
Sorry, no etymologies found.
It was like what they said in the Russian Navy — the Soviet Navy back then — with radiation sickness rampant among submariners due to inadequate shielding on the early-generation reactors.