Definition of tertian in English:


Pronunciation /ˈtərSHən/ /ˈtərʃən/


  • Denoting a form of malaria causing a fever that recurs every second day.

    The common benign tertian malaria (or tertian ague) is caused by infection with Plasmodium vivax or P. ovale, and malignant tertian malaria is caused by P. falciparum. Compare with quartan

    ‘After much thought, the only thing I could see that was left to do was to give the historical treatment of inducing bouts of fever by infecting the patient with benign tertian malaria.’
    • ‘Benign tertian malaria may not be seen until several years after arrival.’
    • ‘Two tertian malarial species, Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale, may appear to be similar morphologically.’
    • ‘A list of patients admitted during the hospital's first years shows that reasons for admission included hysterick disorders, bloody flux, tertian ague, and melancholy.’
    • ‘That August, however, Marvell died in his house in Great Russell Street from medical treatment prescribed for a tertian ague.’


Late Middle English (fever) terciane, from Latin (febris) tertiana, from tertius ‘third’ (the fever recurring every third day by inclusive reckoning).