noun Pathology.
primary tuberculosis of the lymphatic glands, especially those of the neck.

1350–1400; Middle English (plural) < Late Latin scrōfulae (Latin scrōf(a) sow + -ulae (plural) -ule), from the belief that breeding sows were susceptible Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
scrofula (ˈskrɒfjʊlə)
(no longer in technical use) pathol Also called (formerly): the king's evil tuberculosis of the lymphatic glands
[C14: from Medieval Latin, from Late Latin scrōfulae swollen glands in the neck, literally: little sows (sows were thought to be particularly prone to the disease), from Latin scrōfa sow]

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Word Origin & History

c.1400, scrophulas (pl.) from L.L. scrofulæ (pl.) "swelling of the glands of the neck," lit. "little pigs," from L. scrofa "breeding sow." The connection may be because the glands associated with the disease resemble the body of a sow, or because pigs were thought to be prone to it. Cf. Gk. khoirades
(pl.) "scrofula," related to khoiros "young pig."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

scrofula scrof·u·la (skrŏf'yə-lə)
A form of tuberculosis affecting the lymph nodes, especially of the neck, that is most common in children and is usually spread by unpasteurized milk from infected cows. Also called struma.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


formerly tuberculosis, the terms "scrofulous," "strumous," and "tuberculous" being nearly interchangeable in the past, before the real nature of the disease was understood. The particular characteristics associated with scrofula have varied at different periods, but essentially what was meant was tuberculosis of the bones and lymphatic glands, especially in children. It is in this sense that the word survives. The old English popular name was "king's evil," so called from the belief that the sovereign's touch could effect a cure. See also tuberculosis.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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