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From Latin dēfervēscere, from dē- (prefix meaning ‘removing, reversal, or undoing’) + fervēscēre (from fervēscō (to grow hot, to begin to boil), from fervēre (to be hot),[1] present active infinitive of ferveō (to be hot; to boil; to burn; to be agitated or inflamed), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰrewh₁- (to boil; to brew)).



defervesce (third-person singular simple present defervesces, present participle defervescing, simple past and past participle defervesced)

  1. (intransitive, medicine) To experience an abatement or resolution of fever.
    • 1867 March 29, W. H. Draper, “The Thermometer in the Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Treatment, of Disease: Extract from Address [...] Read before the New York Medical Journal Association, March 29th, 1867. Reported by E. S. Belden, M.D.”, in S. W. Butler, D[aniel] G[arrison] Brinton, editors, The Medical and Surgical Reporter: A Weekly Journal, volume XVI, number 531, Philadelphia, Pa.: Alfred Martien, printer, [], published 4 May 1867, →OCLC, page 377, column 2:
      [Carl Reinhold August] Wunderlich, who has made probably more observations with the thermometer than any other living man, has determined, for example, that in simple croupous pneumonia, where the temperature does not exceed 104°, Fahrenheit, the pulse 120, and the respiration 40 in the minute, the case may be considered a favorable one; will surely reach its crisis in from six to ten days, and defervesce, without any medical treatment, except proper attention to the ordinary hygienic and dietetic rules.
    • 1871, C[arl Reinhold] A[ugust] Wunderlich, “Fundamental Principles”, in W. Bathurst Woodman, transl., On the Temperature in Diseases: A Manual of Medical Thermometry. [...] Translated from the Second German Edition (New Sydenham Society Publications; XLIX), London: The New Sydenham Society, →OCLC, § 32, page 14:
      [W]e find that the duration and succession of the febrile phenomena constitute five principal groups. [] 2. Fevers which are essentially continuous in their course (continued fevers), which exhibit but slight daily differences of temperature during their fastigium or acme, and defervesce rapidly (by crisis).
    • 1875 July 31, W. R. Smith, “[Notes, Short Comments, and Answers to Correspondents.] Erysipelas during Parturition.”, in James G. Wakley, editor, The Lancet: A Journal of British and Foreign Medicine, Physiology, Surgery, Chemistry, Public Health, Criticism, and News, volume II, number 2709, London: Published by John James Croft, [], →ISSN, →OCLC, page 187, column 2:
      The symptoms gradually improved until, on the fifth day from her delivery, I was pleased to find the erysipelas rapidly defervescing, the lochia natural, no subinvolution of the uterus, nor abdominal tenderness.
    • 2009, Burke A. Cunha, “Clinical Approach to Fever in Critical Care”, in Burke A. Cunha, editor, Infectious Diseases in Critical Care Medicine (Infectious Disease and Therapy Series; 51), 3rd edition, New York, N.Y., London: Informa Healthcare; Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, →ISBN, part I (Diagnostic Approach in Critical Care), page 14:
      Meningococcal meningitis defervesces quickly over one to three days whereas Haemophilus influenzae meningitis resolves over three to five days, and severe pneumococcal meningitis may take a week or longer for the fever to decrease/become afebrile. Viral causes of meningitis or encephalitis defervesce very slowly over a seven-day period, and by monitoring the fever defevescence pattern a clinician can easily differentiate viral meningitis/encephalitis from bacterial meningitis.
  2. (intransitive, figuratively) To become less agitated; to cool down.
    • 1794, Emanuel Swedenborg, “Of Concubinage”, in The Delights of Wisdom Concerning Conjugial Love: [] Translated from the Latin [], London: Printed and sold by R. Hindmarsh, [], →OCLC, paragraph 466, page 431:
      [I]n common ſcortation, or ſimple adultery, there is not a love analogous to conjugial love, for it is only a heat of the fleſh, which inſtantly deferveſces, and ſometimes does not leave any trace of love behind it towards it's object; [] It is otherwiſe in the caſe of polygamical ſcortation; herein there is a love analogous to conjugial love, for it doth not deferveſce, is not diſſipated, nor doth it paſs off into nothing after efferveſcence, as the foregoing, but it remains, renews, and ſtrengthens itself, and so far takes away from love to the wife, and in the place thereof induces cold towards the wife; []
    • 1839, Marcus Tullius Cicero, “Book IV. On the Perturbations.”, in George Alexander Otis, transl., The Tusculan Questions of Marcus Tullius Cicero. In Five Books. [], Boston, Mass.: James B. Dow, publisher, →OCLC, pages 242–243:
      [T]he angry are gone out of power; that is, out of counsel, out of reason, out of mind; for the power of these ought to control the whole soul. [] [L]et them be implored and entreated, if they have some means of revenge, that they will defer it to another time, until anger shall have defervesced. But to defervesce, certainly implies that heated ebullition of mind which has risen in revolt against reason.
    • 2013, Vincenzo Berghella, “Tuesday, March 26”, in Maldives, [Morrisville, N.C.]: [], →ISBN, page 35:
      Instead, I was still feeling ok after the previous day spent mainly in the Maldivian waters diving and snorkeling, and I had booked for myself two other morning scuba dives on Tuesday. [] Andrea passed the opportunity for these dives today, resting and defervescing from the tour-de-force of the day before.

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ defervesce, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1894.




  1. second-person singular present active imperative of dēfervēscō