• synonyms

king's evil

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  1. scrofula: so called because it was supposed to be curable by the touch of the reigning sovereign.
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Origin of king's evil

1350–1400; Middle English kynges evel
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for king's evil

king's evil

  1. the king's evil pathol a former name for scrofula
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Word Origin

C14: from the belief that the king's touch would heal scrofula
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 king's evil


"scrofula," late 14c., translates Medieval Latin regius morbus; so called because the kings of England and France claimed to heal it by their touch. In England, the custom dates from Edward the Confessor and was continued through the Stuarts (Charles II touched 90,798 sufferers) but was ended by the Hanoverians (1714).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper