• synonyms


[el-uh-fuh n-tahy-uh-sis, -fan-]
  1. Pathology. a chronic filarial disease resulting in lymphatic obstruction, characterized by marked enlargement of the parts affected, especially of the legs and scrotum, transmitted by mosquitoes.
  2. untoward growth or development: bureaucratic elephantiasis.
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Origin of elephantiasis

1575–85; < Latin < Greek elephantíāsis, equivalent to elephant- elephant + -iāsis -iasis
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for elephantiasis

Historical Examples of elephantiasis

  • You would have thought the whole ship's company was sickening for elephantiasis.

    In Eastern Seas

    J. J. Smith

  • The man who warned us was afflicted horribly with elephantiasis.

  • Sad to see was the elephantiasis that afflicted some of them.

  • Fee-fee he had, which is the native for elephantiasis and which is pronounced fay-fay.

  • No one seems really to know the cause of the South Sea elephantiasis.

British Dictionary definitions for elephantiasis


  1. pathol a complication of chronic filariasis, in which nematode worms block the lymphatic vessels, usually in the legs or scrotum, causing extreme enlargement of the affected areaSee also filariasis
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Derived Formselephantiasic (ˌɛlɪˌfæntɪˈæsɪk, ˌɛlɪfənˈtaɪəsɪk), adjective

Word Origin for elephantiasis

C16: via Latin from Greek, from elephas elephant + -iasis
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 elephantiasis


1580s, from Greek elephantos, genitive of elephas "elephant" (see elephant) + -iasis "pathological or morbid condition." It refers to two diseases, one characterized by thickening of a body part (E. Arabum), the other, older meaning is "disease characterized by skin resembling an elephant's" (E. Græcorum, also called Egyptian leprosy).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

elephantiasis in Medicine


  1. Chronic, often extreme enlargement and hardening of cutaneous and subcutaneous tissue, especially of the legs and external genitals, resulting from lymphatic obstruction and usually caused by infestation of the lymph glands and vessels with a filarial worm.
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Related formsel′e•phan•tiac′ (-tīăk′) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.