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[skur-vee] /ˈskɜr vi/
Pathology. a disease marked by swollen and bleeding gums, livid spots on the skin, prostration, etc., due to a diet lacking in vitamin C.
adjective, scurvier, scurviest.
contemptible; despicable; mean:
a scurvy trick.
1555-65; scurf + -y1
Related forms
scurvily, adverb
scurviness, noun
Can be confused
scurfy, scurvy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for scurvy
  • They developed pain medicines, birth-control drugs, and treatment for scurvy.
  • The lack of fruits or vegetables often led to outbreaks of scurvy and other diseases.
  • The first wrappers, purely utilitarian, were used to protect the oranges carried by ships to prevent scurvy.
  • Rebound scurvy can occur after abrupt withdrawal from long-term large doses.
  • As you clearly show, it mostly benefits scurvy politicians, and even scurvier tabloids.
  • The uses of potash in the body have been elucidated in investigating the causes of scurvy.
  • He thinks they may have ridden along inside fruit intended to help sailors prevent scurvy.
  • In the old days, sailors who had scurvy, who have arteries split open.
  • It is a case of chronic scurvy, as opposed to acute scurvy, where the blood vessels split open.
British Dictionary definitions for scurvy


a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C, characterized by anaemia, spongy gums, bleeding beneath the skin, and (in infants) malformation of bones and teeth related adjective scorbutic
adjective -vier, -viest
mean or despicable a scurvy knave
Derived Forms
scurvily, adverb
scurviness, noun
Word Origin
C16: see scurf
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for scurvy
c.1565, noun use of adj. scurvy (c.1425), variant of scurfy (see scurf). It took on the meaning of Du. scheurbuik, Fr. scorbut "scurvy," the disease characterized by swollen and bleeding gums, prostration, etc., perhaps from O.N. skyrbjugr, perhaps lit. "a swelling (bjugr) from drinking sour milk (skyr) on long sea voyages;" but OED has alternative etymology of M.Du. or M.L.G. origin, as "disease that lacerates the belly," from schoren "to lacerate" + M.L.G. buk, Du. buik "belly."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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scurvy in Medicine

scurvy scur·vy (skûr'vē)
A disease caused by deficiency of vitamin C and characterized by spongy bleeding gums, bleeding under the skin, and weakness.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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scurvy in Science
A disease caused by vitamin C deficiency, characterized by bleeding of the gums, rupture of capillaries under the skin, loose teeth, and generalized weakness.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for scurvy



Gross; repulsive (College students)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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