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[thahy-sis, tahy-]
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noun Pathology.
  1. a wasting away.
  2. pulmonary tuberculosis; consumption.

Origin of phthisis

1515–25; < Greek phthísis lung disease, literally, a wasting away, equivalent to phthí(ein) to decay + -sis -sis
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for phthisis

Historical Examples

  • He could hear nothing at all, that woman could never have suffered from phthisis.

    The Three Cities Trilogy, Complete

    Emile Zola

  • Was this, then, some special case of phthisis complicated by neurosis?

  • She brought up her niece Sophie, who was cured of phthisis by Doctor Pascal.

    A Zola Dictionary

    J. G. Patterson

  • And yet, he is not the only one in Baalbek who returned from America with phthisis.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • His mother died in his ninth year, after a second marriage, a victim to phthisis.

    Maxim Gorki

    Hans Ostwald

British Dictionary definitions for phthisis


  1. any disease that causes wasting of the body, esp pulmonary tuberculosis

Word Origin

C16: via Latin from Greek: a wasting away, from phthinein to waste away
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

Word Origin and History for phthisis


1520s, from Late Latin phthisis "consumption," from Greek phthisis "wasting, consumption; perishing, decay; waxing," from phthiein "to decay, waste away," from PIE root *dhgwhei- "to perish, die away" (cf. Sanskrit ksitih "destruction," ksinati "perishes").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

phthisis in Medicine


(thīsĭs, tī-)
  1. A disease characterized by the wasting away or atrophy of the body or part of the body.
  2. Tuberculosis of the lungs. No longer in technical use.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.