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Originally Middle English as part of the collocation fever cum terciane, after Latin febris cum tertiana, from tertius (third).


tertian (not comparable)

  1. Of a fever, characterised by paroxysms every third day.
  2. (music) Pertaining to the mean-tone temperament, in which major thirds are perfectly in tune.


tertian (plural tertians)

  1. A tertian fever.
    • 1603, John Florio, transl.; Michel de Montaigne, Essayes, printed at London: Edward Blount, OCLC 946730821:
      , II.12:
      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, three of which made a tun.