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

  • adjective Recurring every other day or, when considered inclusively, every third day.
  • noun A tertian fever, such as vivax malaria.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Occurring every second day: as, a tertian fever.
  • noun A fever or other disease whose paroxysms return after a period of two days, or on the third day, reckoning both days of consecutive occurrence; an intermittent whose paroxysms occur after intervals of about forty-eight hours.
  • noun In organ-building, a stop consisting of a tierce and a larigot combined.
  • noun A measure of 84 gallons, the third part of a tun.
  • noun A curve of the third order.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective (Med.) Occurring every third day.
  • noun (Med.) A disease, especially an intermittent fever, which returns every third day, reckoning inclusively, or in which the intermission lasts one day.
  • noun A liquid measure formerly used for wine, equal to seventy imperial, or eighty-four wine, gallons, being one third of a tun.

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

  • adjective Of a fever, characterised by paroxysms every third day.
  • adjective music Pertaining to the mean-tone temperament, in which major thirds are perfectly in tune.
  • noun A tertian fever.
  • noun The puncheon, an old wine cask, three of which made a tun.

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

  • adjective relating to symptoms (especially malarial fever) that appear every other day
  • adjective of or relating to a tonal system based on major thirds


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

[Middle English terciane, tertian fever, from Latin (febris) tertiāna, (fever) of the third (day), from tertius, third; see trei- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Originally Middle English as part of the collocation fever cum terciane, after Latin febris cum tertiana, from tertius ("third").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word tertian.


  • Cinchona bark had long been used by indigenous people as a remedy for fevers, and at the end of the seventeenth century, a British physician, in one of the earliest controlled studies of a drug, proved that its effect was unique to what was then known as tertian fever.


  • Classically, but infrequently observed, the attacks occur every second day with the "tertian" parasites (P. falciparum, P. vivax, and P. ovale) and every third day with the "quartan" parasite (P. malariae).


  • Saturday to Tuesday the symptoms continued ever worsening: a kind of tertian ague, "bastard tertian" as the old Doctors name it; for which it was ordered that his

    The Ontario Readers: The High School Reader, 1886

  • Classically, but infrequently observed, the attacks occur every second day with the "tertian" parasites (

    Featured Articles - Encyclopedia of Earth

  • His adopted daughter Meg Giggs was interested in medicine and was known in the More family for having cured her father of tertian fever after reading the medical writings of Galen.

    Vanora Bennett - An interview with author

  • For example, the parasite causing benign tertian malaria, Plasmodium viva, has an incubation time of about ten to seventeen days; the resulting fever, which can be as high as 104 – 106 degrees Fahrenheit, lasts for two to six hours and recurs every third day.

    Pestilence and Headcolds: Encountering Illness in Colonial Mexico

  • Marco Ortiz wrote to his father in 1569 that he had been very ill "with chills and double tertian fever (tercianas dobles) that lasted for six months, [after which] I was cured, God being served."

    Pestilence and Headcolds: Encountering Illness in Colonial Mexico

  • That year, mosquitoes infected by feeding on a patient in Rome were sent to London where they fed on two volunteers, both of whom developed benign tertian malaria.


  • That very night, I tossed so violently in the throes of a dangerous chill that I was afraid I had contracted a tertian ague, and in my dreams I prayed for a medicine.


  • The quotidian, tertian, and quartan fevers, seem to me no less sacred and divine in their origin than this disease, although they are not reckoned so wonderful.

    On The Sacred Disease


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.