When people got sick with fever and chills back in colonial times, they called their illness ague. Today most people would refer to ague as malaria.

Starting in the 13th century, feverish illness was named ague, from the Medieval Latin acuta, "sharp fever," and its root, meaning "sharp." The word began to refer specifically to malaria, an infectious disease spread by mosquitoes, as early as the late 14th century. Colonial doctors often attributed cases of ague to "bad air," and the illness reached epidemic levels several times. It was eliminated as a public health issue in the U.S. around 1950, although malaria is still a problem in other parts of the world.

Definitions of ague
  1. noun
    successive stages of chills and fever that is a symptom of malaria
    synonyms: chills and fever
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    a malarial fever that recurs every fourth day
    type of:
    (medicine) any sensation or change in bodily function that is experienced by a patient and is associated with a particular disease
  2. noun
    a fit of shivering or shaking
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    type of:
    illness, malady, sickness, unwellness
    impairment of normal physiological function affecting part or all of an organism
  3. noun
    a mark (') placed above a vowel to indicate pronunciation
    synonyms: acute, acute accent
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    type of:
    accent, accent mark
    a diacritical mark used to indicate stress or placed above a vowel to indicate a special pronunciation
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