Word of the Day Archive
Monday February 5, 2001
valetudinarian \val-uh-too-din-AIR-ee-un; -tyoo-\
1. A weak or sickly person, especially one morbidly concerned with his or her health.
1. Sickly; weak; infirm.
2. Morbidly concerned with one's health.
He is the querulous bedridden valetudinarian complaining of his asthma or his hay fever, remarking with characteristic hyperbole that "every speck of dust suffocates me."
-- Oliver Conant, review of Marcel Proust, Selected Letters: Volume Two 1904-1909, edited by Philip Kolb, translated by Terrence Kilmartin, New York Times, December 17, 1989
All this from a wasted valetudinarian, who . . . once referred to "this long convalescence which is my life."
-- Michael Dirda, "Devil or Angel", Washington Post, March 31, 1996
Other than the Holy Scripture, he cared for no book as well as the book of decay, its truths written in the furrows scored on the brows of old men and women; in the sagging timbers of decrepit barns; in the lichenous masonry of derelict buildings; in the mangy fur of a valetudinarian lion.
-- Simon Schama, Rembrandt's Eyes
Valetudinarian derives from Latin valetudinarius, "sickly; an invalid," from valetudo, "state of health (good or ill)," from valere, "to be strong or well."