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From Middle English tertiān, terciān, terciāne (adjective and noun), originally often as part of the collocation fever cum terciane, after Latin febris cum tertiānā. Compare the "third" essence of tertiary.


tertian (not comparable)

  1. (medicine, of a fever) Characterised by paroxysms recurring every other day (that is, every third day by inclusive reckoning).
    Coordinate terms: quartan, quotidian
  2. (music) Pertaining to the mean-tone temperament, in which major thirds are perfectly in tune.

Related terms[edit]


tertian (plural tertians)

  1. A tertian fever.
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 12, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes [], book II, London: [] Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount [], →OCLC:
      And although we feele it not, it is not to bee doubted, if a continuall ague may in the end suppresse our mind, a tertian will also (according to her measure and proportion) breed some alteration in it.
    • 1819, Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto 1:
      He died of the slow fever call'd the tertian, / And left his widow to her own aversion.
  2. The puncheon, an old wine cask, whose volume was one-third of a tun's.

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