[ fee-bruhl, feb-ruhl or, especially British, fee-brahyl ]
/ ˈfi brəl, ˈfɛb rəl or, especially British, ˈfi braɪl /
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pertaining to or marked by fever; feverish.


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Origin of febrile

1645–55; <New Latin, Medieval Latin febrīlis.See fever, -ile


fe·bril·i·ty [fi-bril-i-tee], /fɪˈbrɪl ɪ ti/, nounnon·fe·brile, adjectivepost·fe·brile, adjectiveun·fe·brile, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does febrile mean?

Febrile is a more formal way of saying feverish—having a fever.

A fever is an abnormally high body temperature, typically as the result of illness. In general, febrile can mean somehow related to or marked by fever. It is commonly used in formal medical contexts, but it can also be used metaphorically to describe situations marked by a state of anxious excitement.

Example: Nothing is worse than the febrile sweat that comes with the flu.

Where does febrile come from?

The first records of febrile come from the mid-1600s. It comes from the Latin febrīlis, from the Latin febris, “fever.” This root serves as the basis of many related words, including fever itself, febricity (“the state of being feverish”), febriferous (“producing fever”), febrifacient (“something that produces fever”), febricula (“a slight and short fever”), febrific (“marked by fever”), and febrifuge (“a medicine to reduce fever”).

Febrile is most often seen in medical situations involving fevers and their effects. Febrile illnesses are those that are usually accompanied by a fever. It is also used in the names of specific conditions like febrile convulsion (an effect of high fever in young children that involves involuntary shaking).

People sometimes use febrile to describe a situation or atmosphere with a lot of uncertainty, instability, or anxious excitement, as in the febrile period before the election. Similar things are implied by the term feverish and the phrase fever pitch (meaning “a high degree of excitement”). All of these terms reference the kind of delirious state that can accompany a high fever.

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What are some other forms related to febrile?

  • febrility (noun)
  • nonfebrile (adjective)
  • postfebrile (adjective)
  • prefebrile (adjective)
  • unfebrile (adjective)

What are some synonyms for febrile?

What are some words that share a root or word element with febrile



What are some words that often get used in discussing febrile?


How is febrile used in real life?

Febrile is most commonly used in a literal way to refer to an illness involving a fever. When it’s used metaphorically, it often implies that the situation is somehow negative.



Try using febrile!

Which of the following words is the closest synonym of febrile?

A. feverish
B. hot
C. flushed
D. calm

How to use febrile in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for febrile

/ (ˈfiːbraɪl) /

of or relating to fever; feverish

Derived forms of febrile

febrility (fɪˈbrɪlɪtɪ), noun

Word Origin for febrile

C17: from medical Latin febrīlis, from Latin febris fever
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