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Noun usage possibly from the adjective scurvy influenced by or a variant of scurfy. Took on meaning of Dutch scheurbuik, French scorbut (scurvy), possibly from Old Norse skyrbjúgr, skyr (sour milk) + bjúgr (swelling, tumour) whence the Icelandic skyrbjúgur (scurvy). Compare German Scharbock, Late Latin scorbutus. Alternatively from Middle Dutch, from Middle Low German.



scurvy (usually uncountable, plural scurvies)

  1. (medicine) A disease caused by insufficient intake of vitamin C leading to the formation of livid spots on the skin, spongy gums, loosening of the teeth and bleeding into the skin and from almost all mucous membranes.
    • 2012 March 1, William E. Carter, Merri Sue Carter, “The British Longitude Act Reconsidered”, in American Scientist[1], volume 100, number 2, page 87:
      Conditions were horrendous aboard most British naval vessels at the time. Scurvy and other diseases ran rampant, killing more seamen each year than all other causes combined, including combat.


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scurvy (comparative scurvier, superlative scurviest)

  1. Covered or affected with scurf or scabs; scabby; scurfy; specifically, diseased with the scurvy.
    • Bible, Leviticus xxi. 18, 20
      whatsoever man [] be scurvy or scabbed
  2. Contemptible, despicable, low, disgustingly mean.
    a scurvy trick; a scurvy knave
    • Jonathan Swift
      that scurvy custom of taking tobacco
    • 1610, The Tempest, by Shakespeare, act 3 scene 2
      What a pied ninny's this! Thou scurvy patch!

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