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A boy with carious teeth, photographed c. 1890–1910 at the Friern Hospital in London, England, UK, from the collection of the Wellcome Library

From French carieux (carious), from carie (decay (of bone or teeth)) (from Latin cariēs (rot, rottenness, corruption), from careō (to lack, be deprived of), from Proto-Italic *kazēō (to lack), possibly from Proto-Indo-European *ḱes- (to cut).) + French -eux (-ous) (from Latin -ōsus (suffix forming adjectives, meaning ‘full of, prone to), from Old Latin -ōsos, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *-went-, *-wont- + *-to-)).



carious (comparative more carious, superlative most carious)

  1. Having caries (bone or tooth decay); decayed, rotten.
    • 1700, Charles Leigh, “Of Distempers”, in The Natural History of Lancashire, Cheshire, and the Peak, in Derbyshire: With an Account of the British, Phœnician, Armenian, Gr[eek] and Rom[an] Antiquities in Those Parts, Oxford: Printed for the author; and to be had at Mr. George West's, and Mr. Henry Clement's, booksellers there; Mr. Edward Evet's, at the Green-Dragon, in St. Paul's Church-yard; and Mr. John Nicholson, at the King's-Arms, in Little-Britain, OCLC 228724637, book II, section IV (Of Acute Distempers in General, Particularly the Pestilential Fever Raging in Lancashire, in the Years 1693, 94, 95, 96), page 83:
      [I]f no Acid be contain’d in the Blood how comes it, I beſeech you, that in Carious or Virulent Ulcers, the Silver Probe becomes inſtantly of a Livid Colour, which can only be effected by an Acid not an Alkalous Menſtruum?
    • 1806 March 10, Fisher Ames, “To the Same [letter to Thomas Pickering]”, in Works of Fisher Ames. Compiled by a Number of His Friends. To which are Prefixed, Notices of His Life and Character, Boston, Mass.: Printed and published by T. B. Wait & Co. Court-Street, published 1809, OCLC 557775451, page 512:
      Our disease is democracy. It is not the skin that festers—our very bones are carious, and their marrow blackens with gangrene. Which rogues shall be first, is of no moment—our republicanism must die, and I am sorry for it.
    • 1840, William Percivall, “Carious Teeth”, in Hippopathology: A Systematic Treatise on the Disorders and Lamenesses of the Horse; with their Modern and Most Approved Methods of Cure; [...], volume II, London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans, Paternoster Row, OCLC 56007753, section IX (Diseases of the Teeth, Pharynx, and Esophagus), page 179:
      My father’s museum contained several preparations of carious teeth.
    • 2015, Estella Böhmer, “Changes of the Cheek Teeth”, in Dentistry in Rabbits and Rodents, Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, →ISBN, page 179, column 1:
      Many chinchillas suffer from carious-like changes of the cheek teeth and odontoclastic resorptions close to the gingiva []. While carious defects typically lead to localized, brownish discolorations of the occlusal surface and the interproximal area, odontoclastic resorption of the teeth is characterized more by an appearance of the lateral surfaces of the teeth resembling moth damage [].

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