scarlet fever

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(attraction to soldiers): In allusion to the red coats they used to wear.


scarlet fever (countable and uncountable, plural scarlet fevers)

  1. (medicine) A streptococcal infection, mainly occurring among children, and characterized by a red skin rash, sore throat and fever.
    Synonym: scarlatina
  2. (Britain, slang, obsolete, uncountable) Romantic attraction to soldiers in preference to other people.
    • 2019, Hallie Rubenhold, The Five (page 79)
      According to Henry Mayhew, it was here that housemaids and nursemaids walking in the park to and from their place of work often first encountered “the all powerful red coat” and “succumbed to Scarlet Fever.” Soldiers were by no means unaware of the impact their dashing uniforms and well-groomed military air could have on young women, and deployed these features to their advantage.

Derived terms[edit]



  • (attraction to soldiers): 1873, John Camden Hotten, The Slang Dictionary