mal cativo

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Attested since the 18th century. From mal (sickness) cativo (little), "[the] little sickness"



mal cativo m (plural males cativos)

  1. (historical, pathology) an unidentified sickness (18th-19th centuries)
    • 1775, María Francisca Isla y Losada, Romance:
      Teño moitos calafrios,
      á quentura ben detràs,
      receo, si hè ò mal catìbo,
      Dios che me'arrede detàl.
      I have many shivers
      the fever rises just next
      I fear it is the mal cativo,
      God keeps me away from that
  2. (folklore) a nervous sickness, thought to be caused by evil eye or other malediction
    1. (pathology, folklore) ataxia
    2. (pathology, folklore) syphilis

Usage notes[edit]

It is always preceded by the definite article o (or any of its alternative forms) so as to differentiate it from un mal cativo, "a little sickness".