- Pathology. a disease marked by swollen and bleeding gums, livid spots on the skin, prostration, etc., due to a diet lacking in vitamin C.
adjective, scur·vi·er, scur·vi·est.
- contemptible; despicable; mean: a scurvy trick.
- a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C, characterized by anaemia, spongy gums, bleeding beneath the skin, and (in infants) malformation of bones and teethRelated adjective: scorbutic
adjective -vier or -viest
- mean or despicablea scurvy knave
n.1560s, noun use of adjective scurvy “covered with scabs, diseased, scorbutic” (early 15c.), variant of scurfy. It took on the narrower meaning of Dutch scheurbuik, French scorbut “scurvy,” in reference to the disease characterized by swollen and bleeding gums, prostration, etc., perhaps from Old Norse skyrbjugr, which is perhaps literally “a swelling (bjugr) from drinking sour milk (skyr) on long sea voyages;” but OED has alternative etymology of Middle Dutch or Middle Low German origin, as “disease that lacerates the belly,” from schoren “to lacerate” + Middle Low German buk, Dutch buik “belly.” n.
- A disease caused by deficiency of vitamin C and characterized by spongy bleeding gums, bleeding under the skin, and weakness.
- A disease caused by vitamin C deficiency, characterized by bleeding of the gums, rupture of capillaries under the skin, loose teeth, and generalized weakness.