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[roo-muh-tiz-uh m] /ˈru məˌtɪz əm/
noun, Pathology.
any disorder of the extremities or back, characterized by pain and stiffness.
Origin of rheumatism
1595-1605; < Latin rheumatismus catarrh, rheum < Greek rheumatismós, equivalent to rheumat- (stem of rheûma; see rheum) + -ismos -ism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for rheumatism
Historical Examples
  • The mere Gabet, now free of her rheumatism, was able to help in the soaping and rinsing.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • rheumatism, cold, and fever have formed to me a terrible combination.

  • Poor Madame Goujet had died of rheumatism in the month of October.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • I have had the rheumatism since Christmas so bad that I could not walk nor turn myself in bed.

  • But, my dear, which would you rather have—alterations or rheumatism?

    Howards End E. M. Forster
  • Now an old English lady wants a stocking to cure her rheumatism, and I'll get that too.

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
  • "No one can tell what I suffer from rheumatism," said Ben, sadly.

    Paul Prescott's Charge Horatio Alger
  • Now it was rheumatism, now the palsy, and then again the asthma.

    Paul Prescott's Charge Horatio Alger
  • One is grateful for mercies, but does not groan over them like rheumatism or the lumbago.'

    Lord Kilgobbin Charles Lever
  • I know it will fall on my chest, or I shall have an attack of rheumatism.

    Tales Of The Trains Charles James Lever
British Dictionary definitions for rheumatism


any painful disorder of joints, muscles, or connective tissue Compare arthritis, fibrositis
Word Origin
C17: from Latin rheumatismus catarrh, from Greek rheumatismos; see rheum
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 rheumatism

c.1600, from Late Latin rheumatismus, from Greek rheumatismos, from rheumatizein "suffer from the flux," from rheuma "a discharge from the body" (see rheum). "The meaning of a disease of the joints is first recorded in 1688, because rheumatism was thought to be caused by an excessive flow of rheum into a joint thereby stretching ligaments" [Barnhart].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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rheumatism in Medicine

rheumatism rheu·ma·tism (rōō'mə-tĭz'əm)

  1. Any of several pathological conditions of the muscles, tendons, joints, bones, or nerves, characterized by discomfort and disability.

  2. Rheumatoid arthritis.

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