Technically known as vitamin C deficiency, this is one of the oldest known nutritional disorders. Vitamin C is required for the formation of collagen, an important ingredient in most tissues. When you don't get enough, your body starts to become more fragile; you get bleeding gums, loose teeth, sore, stiff joints, internal bleeding, and anemia. Sailers often got scurvy when they went out to sea for months, and subsided on only fish and stored meat and bread, which do not contain much vitamin C.

Although the condition was known for centuries, it was not connected to nutrition until 1753, when the Naval Surgeon James Lind noted that Scurvy could be treated and cured by drinking the juice of oranges, lemons and limes. Captain James Cook was one of the first captains to insist on a diet that included orange extract, with the notable(at the time) result that none of his crew died of the disease during his explorations (But he did encounter several other diseases during his voyages that did the job quite handily).

To prevent scurvy, eat foods with lots of vitamin C. To cure scurvy, eat even more foods with lots of vitamin C.

Thanks to

Scur"vy (?), a. [Compar. Scurvier (?); superl. Scurviest.] [From Scurf; cf. Scurvy, n.]


Covered or affected with scurf or scabs; scabby; scurfy; specifically, diseased with the scurvy.

"Whatsoever man . . . be scurvy or scabbed."

lev. xxi. 18, 20.


Vile; mean; low; vulgar; contemptible.

"A scurvy trick."

Ld. Lytton.

That scurvy custom of taking tobacco. Swift.

[He] spoke spoke such scurvy and provoking terms. Shak.


© Webster 1913.

Scur"vy, n. [Probably from the same source as scirbute, but influenced by scurf, scurfy, scurvy, adj.; cf. D. scheurbuik scurvy, G. scharbock, LL. scorbutus. Cf. Scorbute.] Med.

A disease characterized by livid spots, especially about the thighs and legs, due to extravasation of blood, and by spongy gums, and bleeding from almost all the mucous membranes. It is accompanied by paleness, languor, depression, and general debility. It is occasioned by confinement, innutritious food, and hard labor, but especially by lack of fresh vegetable food, or confinement for a long time to a limited range of food, which is incapable of repairing the waste of the system. It was formerly prevalent among sailors and soldiers.

<-- caused by lack of vitamin C -->

Scurvy grass [Scurvy + grass; or cf. Icel. skarfakal scurvy grass.] Bot. A kind of cress (Cochlearia officinalis) growing along the seacoast of Northern Europe and in arctic regions. It is a remedy for the scurvy, and has proved a valuable food to arctic explorers. The name is given also to other allied species of plants.


© Webster 1913.

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