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

  • noun An infectious disease caused by a spirochete (Treponema pallidum),usually transmitted sexually or in utero, marked initially by local formation of chancres and progressing if untreated to bacteremia and widespread organ damage, such as skin ulcerations and tabes dorsalis.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An infectious venereal disease of chronic course, communicated from person to person by actual contact with discharges containing the virus, or by heredity.

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

  • noun (Med.) The pox, or venereal disease; a chronic, specific, infectious disease, usually communicated by sexual intercourse or by hereditary transmission, and occurring in three stages known as primary, secondary, and tertiary syphilis. See under primary, secondary, and tertiary.

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

  • noun pathology A disease spread via sexual activity, caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum.

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)


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

[New Latin, from Syphilis, sive Morbus Gallicus, “Syphilis, or the French Disease,” title of a poem by Girolamo Fracastoro (1478?–1553), from Syphilus, the poem's protagonist.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Modern Latin, originally the title of a poem by Girolamo Fracastoro concerning "Syphilus", the supposed first sufferer of the disease.



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

  • "Old Joe".

    May 7, 2008

  • I like how the English called it "the French pox," but the French called it "the English pox."

    Though it's not really funny.

    p.s. Reesetee, a candidate for your "Worse Than They Sound" list, perhaps?

    May 7, 2008

  • I dunno; I never thought this word was all that pretty, for some reason. Hmm.

    May 7, 2008

  • Oh, well, then don't add it.

    I wonder about the name Phyllis, actually. It sure does sound like syphilis, but some people find it pretty, I guess.

    May 7, 2008

  • Yes, but the same syllable isn't accented. Maybe that makes a difference?

    May 7, 2008

  • "Grandgore" just sounds so proud to be syphilis. :D

    July 10, 2008

  • Something about syphilis always sounded nice, apart from the actual meaning. Then someone mentioned it sounds like a Harry Potter spell and ruined it for me.

    July 24, 2008

  • You have GOT to be kidding....*hork*

    July 24, 2008

  • Spirochete sounds lovely too, though it certainly isn't...

    July 24, 2008

  • I agree with you on that one.

    July 29, 2008