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noun Pathology.
  1. a disease of childhood, characterized by softening of the bones as a result of inadequate intake of vitamin D and insufficient exposure to sunlight, also associated with impaired calcium and phosphorus metabolism.

Origin of rickets

First recorded in 1635–45; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rickets

Historical Examples

  • Tuberculosis and rickets carried on their evil work unchecked.

    A Labrador Doctor

    Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

  • Excessive perspiration when sleeping is an early symptom of rickets.

    The Mother and Her Child

    William S. Sadler

  • Rickets, during infancy, is the most common cause of spinal curvature.

    The Mother and Her Child

    William S. Sadler

  • It is increased also by pain in rickets, and especially in some affections of the lungs.

    The Mother and Her Child

    William S. Sadler

  • I forthwith entered into an explanation of the causes of rickets.

    At the Court of the Amr

    John Alfred Gray

British Dictionary definitions for rickets


  1. (functioning as singular or plural) pathol a disease mainly of children, characterized by softening of developing bone, and hence bow legs, malnutrition, and enlargement of the liver and spleen, caused by a deficiency of vitamin D

Word Origin

C17: of unknown origin
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 rickets


disease caused by vitamin D deficiency, 1630s, of uncertain origin. Originally a local name for the disease in Dorset and Somerset, England. Some derive it from a Dorset word, rucket "to breathe with difficulty," but the sense connection is difficult. The Modern Latin name for the disease, rachitis, comes from Greek rhakhis "spine" (see rachitic), but this was chosen by English physician Daniel Whistler (1619-1684) for resemblance to rickets.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

rickets in Medicine


  1. A bone disease resulting in defective skeletal growth in children, analogous to osteomalacia in adults, characterized by bone demineralization caused by deficiency or impaired metabolism of vitamin D or phosphates. infantile osteomalacia juvenile osteomalacia rachitis
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

rickets in Science


  1. A bone disease seen mostly in children, caused by a deficiency of vitamin D, usually as a result of inadequate dietary intake or lack of exposure to sunlight. This deficiency causes decreased calcium absorption from the intestine and abnormalities in formation and mineralization of skeletal bone, resulting in defective bone growth and deformity.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.