from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of several disorders of porphyrin metabolism, usually hereditary, characterized by the presence of large amounts of porphyrins in the blood and urine.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun pathology Any of several usually hereditary abnormalities of porphyrin metabolism characterized by excretion of excess porphyrins in the urine.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a genetic abnormality of metabolism causing abdominal pains and mental confusion


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[New Latin : porphyr(in) + –ia.]


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  • The rain set early in tonight,

    The sullen wind was soon awake,

    It tore the elm-tops down for spite,

    and did its worst to vex the lake:

    I listened with heart fit to break.

    When glided in Porphyria; straight

    She shut the cold out and the storm,

    And kneeled and made the cheerless grate

    Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;

    Which done, she rose, and from her form

    Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,

    And laid her soiled gloves by, untied

    Her hat and let the damp hair fall,

    And, last, she sat down by my side

    And called me. When no voice replied,

    She put my arm about her waist,

    And made her smooth white shoulder bare,

    And all her yellow hair displaced,

    And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,

    And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair,

    Murmuring how she loved me--she

    Too weak, for all her heart's endeavor,

    To set its struggling passion free

    From pride, and vainer ties dissever,

    And give herself to me forever.

    But passion sometimes would prevail,

    Nor could tonight's gay feast restrain

    A sudden thought of one so pale

    For love of her, and all in vain:

    So, she was come through wind and rain.

    Be sure I looked up at her eyes

    Happy and proud; at last I knew

    Porphyria worshiped me: surprise

    Made my heart swell, and still it grew

    While I debated what to do.

    That moment she was mine, mine, fair,

    Perfectly pure and good: I found

    A thing to do, and all her hair

    In one long yellow string I wound

    Three times her little throat around,

    And strangled her. No pain felt she;

    I am quite sure she felt no pain.

    As a shut bud that holds a bee,

    I warily oped her lids: again

    Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.

    And I untightened next the tress

    About her neck; her cheek once more

    Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:

    I propped her head up as before

    Only, this time my shoulder bore

    Her head, which droops upon it still:

    The smiling rosy little head,

    So glad it has its utmost will,

    That all it scorned at once is fled,

    And I, its love, am gained instead!

    Porphyria's love: she guessed not how

    Her darling one wish would be heard.

    And thus we sit together now,

    And all night long we have not stirred,

    And yet God has not said a word!

    (Robert Browning)

    September 22, 2007

  • When I was a medical student we had a totally psychopathic Professor of Medicine who was an expert on porphyria.

    September 22, 2007

  • Always was spooked by that poem....

    SoG, maybe the professor had it himself? ;-) Wasn't George III thought by some to have had porphyria?

    September 22, 2007

  • i'd like to marry you,your highness, but i can't porphyria might make me clean the purple toilet bowl.

    November 1, 2007