• synonyms


[er-uh-sip-uh-luh s, eer-uh-]
  1. Pathology. an acute, febrile infectious disease, caused by a specific streptococcus, characterized by diffusely spreading deep-red inflammation of the skin or mucous membranes.
  2. Also called swine erysipelas. Veterinary Pathology. a disease of swine, caused by the organism Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, characterized by urticaria, vegetative endocarditis, arthritis, and sometimes septicemia.
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Origin of erysipelas

1350–1400; Middle English erisipila < Latin erysipelas < Greek, equivalent to erysi- (probably akin to erythrós red) + -pelas probably skin (akin to pélma sole of the foot; compare Latin pellis skin)
Related formser·y·si·pel·a·tous [er-uh-si-pel-uh-tuh s, eer-] /ˌɛr ə sɪˈpɛl ə təs, ˌɪər-/, adjectivepseu·do·er·y·si·pel·a·tous, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for erysipelas

Historical Examples

  • His injuries about the head are so severe the doctors are in dread of erysipelas.'

    Lord Kilgobbin

    Charles Lever

  • Erysipelas, that terrible malady of the Middle Ages, consumed her.

    En Route

    J.-K. (Joris-Karl) Huysmans

  • One is so afraid of erysipelas with a wound of that kind; and it would be—fatal.

  • Erysipelas in pregnancy is rare, but not infrequent after delivery.

  • We have Erysipelas, fever and gangrene, and the Russian wounded are the worst.

British Dictionary definitions for erysipelas


  1. an acute streptococcal infectious disease of the skin, characterized by fever, headache, vomiting, and purplish raised lesions, esp on the faceAlso called: Saint Anthony's fire
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Derived Formserysipelatous (ˌɛrɪsɪˈpɛlətəs), adjective

Word Origin

C16: from Latin, from Greek erusipelas, from Greek erusi- red + -pelas skin
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 erysipelas


late 14c., skin disease also known as St. Anthony's Fire, from Greek erysipelas, perhaps from erythros "red" (see red (1)) + pella "skin" (see film (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

erysipelas in Medicine


(ĕr′ĭ-sĭpə-ləs, îr′-)
  1. An acute disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue caused by a hemolytic bacterium and marked by localized inflammation and fever.Saint Anthony's fire
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Related formser′y•si•pela•tous (-sĭ-pĕlə-təs) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.