What does scurvy mean?

Definitions for scurvy
ˈskɜr viscurvy

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word scurvy.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. scurvy, scorbutusadjective

    a condition caused by deficiency of ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

  2. abject, low, low-down, miserable, scummy, scurvyadjective

    of the most contemptible kind

    "abject cowardice"; "a low stunt to pull"; "a low-down sneak"; "his miserable treatment of his family"; "You miserable skunk!"; "a scummy rabble"; "a scurvy trick"


  1. scurvynoun

    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.

  2. scurvyadjective

    Contemptible, despicable, low, disgustingly mean.

  3. Etymology: * Noun usage from the adjective scurvy#Adjective influenced by or a variant of scurfy. Took on meaning of scheurbuik, scorbut, possibly from skyrbjúgr, skyr + bjúgr whence the Icelandic skyrbjúgur. Compare German scharbock, Late Latin scorbutus.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Scurvyadjective

    Etymology: from scurf, scurfy, scurvy.

    Whatsoever man be scurvy or scabbed. Lev. xxi. 20.

    I know him for a man divine and holy;
    Not scurvy, nor a temporary meddler. William Shakespeare.

    This is a very scurvy tune to sing to a man’s funeral. William Shakespeare.

    He spoke scurvy and provoking terms
    Against your honour. William Shakespeare.

    A crane, which is but scurvy meat, lays but two eggs. Chey.

    It would be convenient to prevent the excess of drink, with that scurvy custom of taking tobacco. Jonathan Swift.

  2. Scurvynoun

    This word was, I believe, originally an adjective. The scurvy is a distemper of the inhabitants of cold countries, and amongst those such as inhabit marshy, fat, low, moist soils, near stagnating water, fresh or salt; invading chiefly in the Winter such as are sedentary, or live upon salted or smoaked flesh and fish, or quantities of unfermented farinaceous vegetables, and drink bad water. Arbuthnot.

    Etymology: from scurf.


  1. Scurvy

    Scurvy is a disease resulting from a lack of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Early symptoms of deficiency include weakness, feeling tired and sore arms and legs. Without treatment, decreased red blood cells, gum disease, changes to hair, and bleeding from the skin may occur. As scurvy worsens there can be poor wound healing, personality changes, and finally death from infection or bleeding.It takes at least a month of little to no vitamin C in the diet before symptoms occur. In modern times, scurvy occurs most commonly in people with mental disorders, unusual eating habits, alcoholism, and older people who live alone. Other risk factors include intestinal malabsorption and dialysis. While many animals produce their own vitamin C, humans and a few others do not. Vitamin C is required to make the building blocks for collagen. Diagnosis is typically based on physical signs, X-rays, and improvement after treatment.Treatment is with vitamin C supplements taken by mouth. Improvement often begins in a few days with complete recovery in a few weeks. Sources of vitamin C in the diet include citrus fruit and a number of vegetables, including red peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes. Cooking often decreases the residual amount of vitamin C in foods.Scurvy is rare compared to other nutritional deficiencies. It occurs more often in the developing world in association with malnutrition. Rates among refugees are reported at 5 to 45 percent. Scurvy was described as early as the time of ancient Egypt. It was a limiting factor in long-distance sea travel, often killing large numbers of people. During the Age of Sail, it was assumed that 50 percent of the sailors would die of scurvy on a major trip. A Scottish surgeon in the Royal Navy, James Lind, is generally credited with proving that scurvy can be successfully treated with citrus fruit in 1753. Nevertheless, it was not until 1795 that health reformers such as Gilbert Blane persuaded the Royal Navy to routinely give lemon juice to its sailors.


  1. scurvy

    Scurvy is a disease resulting from a deficiency of vitamin C, which is required for the synthesis of collagen in humans. It is characterized by symptoms such as anemia, gum disease, and skin hemorrhages. Since vitamin C is not naturally produced by the body, it must be obtained from the diet, typically from fruits and vegetables. If left untreated, scurvy can be fatal.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Scurvynoun

    covered or affected with scurf or scabs; scabby; scurfy; specifically, diseased with the scurvy

  2. Scurvynoun

    vile; mean; low; vulgar; contemptible

  3. Scurvynoun

    a disease characterized by livid spots, especially about the thighs and legs, due to extravasation of blood, and by spongy gums, and bleeding from almost all the mucous membranes. It is accompanied by paleness, languor, depression, and general debility. It is occasioned by confinement, innutritious food, and hard labor, but especially by lack of fresh vegetable food, or confinement for a long time to a limited range of food, which is incapable of repairing the waste of the system. It was formerly prevalent among sailors and soldiers

  4. Etymology: [Probably from the same source as scorbute, but influenced by scurf, scurfy, scurvy, adj.; cf. D. scheurbuik scurvy, G. scharbock, LL. scorbutus. Cf. Scorbute.]


  1. Scurvy

    Scurvy is a disease resulting from a deficiency of vitamin C, which is required for the synthesis of collagen in humans. The chemical name for vitamin C, ascorbic acid, is derived from the Latin name of scurvy, scorbutus, which also provides the adjective scorbutic. Scurvy often presents itself initially as symptoms of malaise and lethargy, followed by formation of spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from the mucous membranes. Spots are most abundant on the thighs and legs, and a person with the ailment looks pale, feels depressed, and is partially immobilized. As scurvy advances, there can be open, suppurating wounds, loss of teeth, jaundice, fever, neuropathy and death. Scurvy was at one time common among sailors, pirates and others aboard ships at sea longer than perishable fruits and vegetables could be stored and by soldiers similarly deprived of these foods for extended periods. It was described by Hippocrates, and herbal cures for scurvy have been known in many native cultures since prehistory. Scurvy was one of the limiting factors of marine travel, often killing large numbers of the passengers and crew on long-distance voyages. This became a significant issue in Europe from the beginning of the modern era in the Age of Discovery in the 15th century, continuing to play a significant role through World War I in the 20th century.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Scurvy

    skur′vi, adj. scurfy: affected with scurvy: scorbutic: shabby: vile, vulgar, contemptible.—n. a disease marked by livid spots on the skin and general debility, due to an improper dietary, and particularly an insufficient supply of fresh vegetable food.—adv. Scur′vily, in a scurvy manner: meanly, basely.—ns. Scur′viness, state of being scurvy: meanness; Scur′vy-grass, a genus of cruciferous plants, efficacious in curing scurvy. [Scurf.]

U.S. National Library of Medicine

  1. Scurvy

    An acquired blood vessel disorder caused by severe deficiency of vitamin C (ASCORBIC ACID) in the diet leading to defective collagen formation in small blood vessels. Scurvy is characterized by bleeding in any tissue, weakness, ANEMIA, spongy gums, and a brawny induration of the muscles of the calves and legs.

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  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of scurvy in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of scurvy in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of scurvy in a Sentence

  1. Mary Bertone:

    Get thee glass eyes And, like a scurvy politician, seem To see the things thou dost not.

  2. Scott C. Holstad:

    They closed the transient 5th Avenue Motel and now where will they go? They came from all over to stay for a night or a month or whatever they could afford, however they can afford it – and now it’s gone, broken windows boarded up, chain link fence surrounding it like it’s a dog with scurvy. The transient hotel drained pale, pissing in an empty ashtray.

  3. Jorgen Stoltz:

    In the summer there is arrowgrass, which tastes of coriander, all year round we find scurvy grass, which is what the Vikings used to bring around Europe as a medicinal herb. We also call it wasabi wort because of its intensity, just like horseradish.

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"scurvy." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 4 Dec. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/scurvy>.

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