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

  • n. A disease such as chickenpox or smallpox, characterized by purulent skin eruptions that may leave pockmarks.
  • n. Syphilis.
  • n. Archaic Misfortune and calamity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A disease characterized by purulent skin eruptions that may leave pockmarks.
  • n. Syphilis.
  • v. To infect with the pox, or syphilis.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Strictly, a disease by pustules or eruptions of any kind, but chiefly or wholly restricted to three or four diseases, -- the smallpox, the chicken pox, and the vaccine and the venereal diseases.
  • transitive v. To infect with the pox, or syphilis.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To communicate the pox or venereal disease to.
  • n. A disease characterized by eruptive pocks or pustules upon the body.

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

  • n. a common venereal disease caused by the treponema pallidum spirochete; symptoms change through progressive stages; can be congenital (transmitted through the placenta)
  • n. a contagious disease characterized by purulent skin eruptions that may leave pock marks


Alteration of pocks, from Middle English, pl. of pocke, pokke; see pock.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English pokkes, plural of the ancestor of pock (which see). (Wiktionary)



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  • There are many poxviruses in nature, and they infect species that gather in swarms and herds, circulating among them like pickpockets at a fair. There are two principal kinds of pox viruses: the poxes of vertebrates and the poxes of insects. Pox hunters have so far discovered mousepox, monkeypox, skunkpox, pigpox, goatpox, camelpox, psuedocowpox, buffalopox, gerbilpox, several deerpoxes, chamoispox, a couple of sealpoxes, turkeypox, canarypox, pigeonpox, starlingpox, peacockpox, sparrowpox, juncopox, mynahpox, quailpox, parrotpox, and toadpox. There's mongolian horsepox, a pox called Yaba monkey tumor, and a pox called orf. There's dolphinpox, penguinpox, two kangaroopoxes, raccoonpox, and quokkapox. (The quokka is an Australian wallaby.) Snakes catch snakepox, spectacled caimans suffer from spectacled caimanpox, and crocodiles get crocpox. . . .

    Insects are tortured by poxviruses. There are three groups of insect poxviruses: the beetlepoxes, the butterflypoxes (which include the mothpoxes), and the poxes of flies, including the mosquitopoxes. And attempt to get to the bottom of the insect poxes would be like trying to enumerate the nine billion names of God.

    . . .

    . . . The insect poxes may have arisen in early Devonian times, long before the age of dinosaurs . . . and the first insects were evolving. . . .

    At least two known midgepoxes torment midges. Grasshoppers are known to suffer from at least six different grasshopperpoxes. If a plague of African locusts breaks out with locustpox, the plague is hit with a plague, and is in deep trouble. Poxviruses keep herds and swarms of living things in check, preventing them from growing to large and overwhelming their habitats.

    Richard Preston, The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story (New York: Random House, 2002), pp. 64-66

    February 16, 2016

  • Well, to repine is to be sad, or to yearn. And the phrase "a pox on" is basically used to curse something. So I'll guess that a modern English translation might be "to hell with sadness and yearning."

    Though if it's a jaunty little dance number, I'm probably wrong.

    November 3, 2010

  • William Turner (1775 -1851) wrote a piece for recorder called "A pox on repining" - Can anyone enlighten me as to what this means??

    November 3, 2010