Medical Definition of Ague

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ague: A fever (such as from malaria) that is marked by paroxysms of chills, fever, and sweating recurring regular intervals. Also a fit of shivering, a chill. Hence, ague can refer to both chills and fevers.

Pronounced 'A-(")gyu with the accent solidly on the "A", the word "ague" is an example of how medical terminology changes with time. Not only are new terms introduced (with great speed these days) but old terms such as "ague" may decline in usage (become archaic) and eventually may be dropped entirely (be obsolete).

"Aigue" entered English usage in the 14th century, having crossed the channel from the Middle French "aguë". The word share the same origin as "acute." It descends from the Latin "acutus" meaning "sharp or pointed". A "fievre aigue" in French was a sharp or pointed (or acute) fever.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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