If you are a pirate who doesn't get to shore very often to shop for fresh fruits and veggies, you might suffer from scurvy, a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency.

Scurvy has some alarming symptoms: your gums become soft and tender and your teeth fall out. Scurvy has become a rarity in most parts of the world, but in regions where food is scarce and malnutrition common, it's still a problem. The unpleasant associations of the word also make it a colorful (and archaic) way to describe something low-down and miserable, as in "that was a scurvy trick you played on me, you dastardly cur!"

Definitions of scurvy

n a condition caused by deficiency of ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

Type of:
avitaminosis, hypovitaminosis
any of several diseases caused by deficiency of one or more vitamins

adj of the most contemptible kind

“a scurvy trick”
abject, low, low-down, miserable, scummy
deserving of contempt or scorn

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.