[roo-muh-tiz-uh m]

noun Pathology.

any disorder of the extremities or back, characterized by pain and stiffness.

Origin of rheumatism

1595–1605; < Latin rheumatismus catarrh, rheum < Greek rheumatismós, equivalent to rheumat- (stem of rheûma; see rheum) + -ismos -ism
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rheumatism

Historical Examples of rheumatism

  • The mere Gabet, now free of her rheumatism, was able to help in the soaping and rinsing.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • Rheumatism, cold, and fever have formed to me a terrible combination.

  • Poor Madame Goujet had died of rheumatism in the month of October.


    Emile Zola

  • I have had the rheumatism since Christmas so bad that I could not walk nor turn myself in bed.

  • But, my dear, which would you rather have—alterations or rheumatism?

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

British Dictionary definitions for rheumatism



any painful disorder of joints, muscles, or connective tissueCompare arthritis, fibrositis

Word Origin for rheumatism

C17: from Latin rheumatismus catarrh, from Greek rheumatismos; see rheum
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 rheumatism

c.1600, from Late Latin rheumatismus, from Greek rheumatismos, from rheumatizein "suffer from the flux," from rheuma "a discharge from the body" (see rheum). "The meaning of a disease of the joints is first recorded in 1688, because rheumatism was thought to be caused by an excessive flow of rheum into a joint thereby stretching ligaments" [Barnhart].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

rheumatism in Medicine




Any of several pathological conditions of the muscles, tendons, joints, bones, or nerves, characterized by discomfort and disability.
Rheumatoid arthritis.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.