Etymology
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quartan (adj.)

"having to do with the fourth," especially of attacks of an intermittent fever, etc., "occurring every fourth day" (by inclusive reckoning; now we would say every third day), early 14c., (feuer) quartain, from Old French (fievre) quartaine or cartaine and directly from Latin (febris) quartana, "quartan (fever)," fem. of quartanus "of or belonging to the fourth; of or occurring on the fourth day," from quartus "the fourth, fourth part" (related to quattuor "four," from PIE root *kwetwer- "four").

Also as a noun, "an ague or fever which recurs on the fourth (third) day," late 14c. Under inclusive reckoning, both days of consecutive occurrence are counted (if you have it on Wednesday and again on Saturday, the ancients would count that as "every four days"). 

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scarlatina (n.)

"scarlet fever," 1803, from Modern Latin scarlatina (Sydenham, 1676), from Italian scarlattina (Lancelotti, 1527), fem. of scarlattino (adj.), diminutive of scarlatto "scarlet" (see scarlet). According to OED, often "misapprehended" as meaning a milder form of the disease. Related: Scarlattinal.

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attack (n.)

1660s, "violent onset, a falling on with violence and force," from attack (v.). The meaning "fit of a disease" is from 1811. Compare Middle English attach "a seizure or attack" (of fever), late 14c.

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fitful (adj.)

used once by Shakespeare ("Life's fitful fever," "Macbeth," 1605) in sense of "characterized by fits," from fit (n.2) + -ful. then Revived in Romantic poetry late 18c. with a sense of "shifting, changing." Related: Fitfully (1792); fitfulness.

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hectic (adj.)

late 14c., etik (in fever etik "hectic fever"), from Old French etique "consumptive," from Late Latin hecticus, from Greek hektikos "continuous, habitual," also used of slow, continued diseases or fevers. The Greek adjective is from hexis "a habit (of mind or body)," from ekhein "have, hold, continue" (from PIE root *segh- "to hold"). The Latin -h- was restored in English 16c.

The use of the word by the Greek physicians apparently was from the notion of a fever rooted in the constitution of the body and symptomatic of one's physical condition, or else from its continuousness (compare ephemera). Hectic fevers are characterized by rapid pulse, flushed cheeks, hot skin, emaciation. In English applied particularly to the wasting fevers, rising and falling with the hours of the day, characteristic of tuberculosis.

Sense of "feverishly exciting, full of disorganized activity" is from 1904 and was a vogue word at first, according to Fowler, but hectic also was used in Middle English as a noun meaning "feverish desire, consuming passion" (early 15c.). Related: Hecticness.

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delirious (adj.)

1703, "wandering in the mind, affected with delirium" (as a result of fever or illness), from stem of delirium + -ous. The earlier adjective was delirous (1650s). Figurative sense of "characterized by or proceeding from wild excitement or exaggerated emotion" is by 1791. Related: Deliriously; deliriousness.

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malaria (n.)

1740, "unwholesome air, air contaminated with the poison producing intermittent and remittent fever," from Italian mal'aria, from mala aria, literally "bad air," from mala "bad" (fem. of malo, from Latin malus; see mal-) + aria "air" (see air (n.1)). Probably first used by Italian physician Francisco Torti (1658-1741). By 1866 it had come to be used of the disease itself (earlier malaria fever, by 1814). The disease, now known to be mosquito-borne, once was thought to be caused by foul air in marshy districts. Replaced native ague.

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tepid (adj.)

c. 1400, from Latin tepidus "lukewarm," from tepere "be moderately warm," from PIE root *tep- "to be hot" (source also of Sanskrit tapati "makes warm, heats, burns," tapas "heat, austerity;" Avestan tafnush "fever;" Old Church Slavonic topiti "to warm," teplu "warm;" Old Irish tene "fire;" Welsh tes "heat"). Related: Tepidly; tepidity.

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influenza (n.)

type of infectious disease, now known to be caused by a virus, usually occurring as an epidemic, with symptoms similar to a severe cold along with high fever and rapid prostration, 1743, borrowed (during an outbreak of the disease in Europe), from Italian influenza "influenza, epidemic," originally "visitation, influence (of the stars)," from Medieval Latin influentia in the astrological sense (see influence).

AN Article from Rome informs us that a Sort of Plague has broke out there, which destroys Abundance of their People, and they call it the Influenza. [The Gentleman's Magazine, April 1743]

Used in Italian for diseases at least since 1504 (as in influenza di febbre scarlattina "scarlet fever") on notion of astral, occult, or atmospheric influence. The 1743 outbreak began in Italy. Often applied since mid-19c. to severe colds. For the sense development, compare Latin sideratio "blast, blight, palsy," from siderari "to be planet-struck, afflicted as if by an evil star."

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putrid (adj.)

late 14c., "festering gangrenous, in a state of decay," from Old French putride and directly from Latin putridus, from putrere "to rot," from putris "rotten, crumbling," related to putere "to stink," from PIE root *pu- (2) "to rot, stink" (see pus). First in reference to putrid fever, an old name for typhus (also known in Middle English as putrida), which supposedly was caused by putrefaction of bodily humors. Related: Putridness.

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