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List of English Causes of Death

Sahib’s Disease

Kala-Azar. [NomDis1961]

Sahib: Used formerly as a form of respectful address for a European man in colonial India.


A superabundant secretion of saliva occasioned either locally, by the use of irritating masticatories, or under the influence of some cause which acts on the whole economy, and especially of mercurial preparations. [Dunglison1874]

Salt Rheum

An inflammatory disease of the skin, characterized by the presence of redness and itching, an eruption of small vesicles, and the discharge of a watery exudation, which often dries up, leaving the skin covered with crusts; -- called also tetter, milk crust [Webster]

Sandfly Fever

A febrile virus disease of short duration and no mortality, transmitted by Phlebotomus flies and clinically resembling influenza. It frequently occurs in epidemic form among new arrivals in endemic areas. [Saunders1945]

Sanguineous Crust



A thin bad matter, discharged from an ill conditioned sore. [Buchan1798]

A thin, fetid, greenish fluid consisting of serum and pus discharged from a wound, ulcer, or fistula. [Heritage]


Infection of the blood by putrefactive products. [Appleton1907]

Blood poisoning caused by putrefactive bacteria; results from eating putrefied matter [Wordnet]


A malignant tumor arising from connective tissues. [Heritage]


A contagious skin disease caused by a parasitic mite (Sarcoptes scabiei) and characterized by intense itching. [Heritage]

Fact sheet from CDC
Information sheet from NYS Dept of Health

Scald Head

A common name for Porrigo, or ringworm of the scalp. [Thomas1875].

A name popularly given to several diseases of the scalp characterized by pustules (the dried discharge of which forms scales) and by falling out of the hair. [Webster].

Example from a 1752 Death Record from England:


To burn with a hot liquid or steam. [American Heritage].

Example from an 1863 death certificate from New Brunswick, Canada:

Scandinavian Syphilis Radesyge


A barbarous term, apparently of British origin, which has superseded the original and more classical name, Roseolia, or Scarlet Fever. [Hoblyn1855]

Scarlet fever; a disease characterized by contagious fever, and a scarlet eruption on the skin in patches, ending in three or four days in desquamation of the cuticle. It is often accompanied with great soreness in the fauces and throat. [Thomas1875].

Example from an 1836 death certificate from West Virginia:

Example from an 1844 death certificate from England:

Scarlatina Maligna

Malignant form of Scarlet Fever [Thomas1907].

Example from an 1886 death certificate from Illinois:


Fourth disease, Rose rash, Roseola.

Scarlet Fever

An acute contagious disease of childhood, characterized by a bright, scarlet-colored, punctiform eruption, diffused over the entire body; by an angina more or less severe; by a fever so variable in character that it may only be detected by the thermometer, or so severe as to rapidly destroy life, the thermometer registering higher in this than in any other fever; and by a marked tendency to nephritis, the disease finally terminating' by desquamation of the skin. [Thomas1907].

Example from an 1856 death certificate from West Virginia:

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia

Scarlet Rash

Scarlet Fever.

Example from an 1871 death certificate from West Virginia:


Any of various generally tropical diseases caused by infestation with schistosomes, widespread in rural areas of Africa, Asia, and Latin America through use of contaminated water, and characterized by infection and gradual destruction of the tissues of the kidneys, liver, and other organs. [Heritage].

Fact sheet from CDC


Any of several psychotic disorders characterized by distortions of reality and disturbances of thought and language and withdrawal from social contact (syn: schizophrenic disorder, schizophrenic psychosis, dementia praecox). [Wordnet]


Name given to an outbreak of leptospirosis near Breslau in Germany thought to have been due to infection with Leptospira grippotyphosa. [CancerWEB]


A form of neuralgia characterized by intense pain and tenderness along the course of the body's longest nerve ( sciatic nerve ), extending from the back of the thigh down to the calf of the leg. [Collins].

Sciatic Rheumatism


Example from an 1886 death certificate from Illinois:




Scirrhus Mammary






Scirrhus Ulceration of Eyelid






Scirrhus of the Bowels

A hard dense cancerous growth usually arising from connective tissue. [Heritage].

Example from an 1893 death certificate from England:

Example from an 1862 Death Register from Scotland:

Example from an 1870 Death Certificate from England:


Epidemic dysentery that prevailed in the 10th century. [Duglison1874]


Induration; hardening; especially, that form of induration produced in an organ by increase of its interstitial connective tissue. [Webster]

Cerebro-Spinal Sclerosis

An affection in which patches of hardening, produced by increase of the neuralgia and atrophy of the true nerve tissue, are found scattered throughout the brain and spinal cord. It is associated with complete or partial paralysis, a peculiar jerking tremor of the muscles, headache, and vertigo, and is usually fatal. Called also multiple, disseminated, or insular, sclerosis. [Webster]

Scorbutic Fever

The febrile movement that sometimes accompanies scorbutus or scurvy. [Dunglison1868]

Scorbutic Ulcers

Ulcers caused by scurvy. [CivilWarMed]


The scurvy, a disease characterized by heaviness, dejection of spirits, bloated countenance, livid spots on the skin, offensive breath, spongy gums, with occasional hemorrhage from the mouth and nostrils, swelling of the legs, etc. [Thomas1875]


Dizziness with dimness of sight. [Webster1913]

Screw Worm

The larva of an American fly (Compsomyia macellaria), allied to the blowflies, which sometimes deposits its eggs in the nostrils, or about wounds, in man and other animals, with fatal results. [Webster]


A state of the system, characterized by indolent, glandular tumours, chiefly in the neck; suppurating slowly and imperfectly, and healing with difficulty; the disease ordinarily occurring in those of a sanguine temperament, with thick upper lip, &c. The tumours, after suppuration, degenerate into ulcers; which, in process of time, cicatrize, leaving scars. The internal organs are apt to be attacked in those disposed to scrofula; hence they are often the subjects of phthisis and mesenteric affections. [Dunglison1846].

A disease principally characterized by a chronic swelling of the absorbent glands, which tend very slowly to imperfect suppuration. It is classically called struma; by the French, ecrouelles, which is found corrupted, in Scotland, into the cruels; by the Germans, der kropft, from the swelling under the chin; and by the English, the king's evil. [Hoblyn1865].

A disease characterized chiefly by chronic swelling of absorbent glands, particularly of the neck, behind the ears, and under the chin, tending slowly to imperfect suppuration. Also termed struma. [Thomas1875]

A form of tuberculosis affecting the lymph nodes, especially of the neck, that is most common in children and is usually spread by unpasteurized milk from infected cows. Also called struma; the King's Evil. [Heritage].

"scrofula" was first used: 14th century from the Late Latin expression "scrofulae " meaning swelling of the glands of the neck". [Webster]

Example from an 1869 death certificate from West Virginia:

Scrofula Americana

Scrofula when it is joined with the yaws. [Hooper1843]

Scrofula Consumption


Scrofula Fugax

Scrofula: This is of the simplest kind; it is seated only about the neck, and for the most part is caused by absorption from sores on the head.  [Hooper1843]

Scrofula Mesenterica

Scrofula when internal, with loss of appetite, pale countenance, swelling of the belly, and an unusual fetor of the excrements. [Hooper1843]

Scrofula Vulgaris

Scrofula when it is without other disorders external and permanent. [Hooper1843]

Scrofula of the Bowels

Inflammation and ulceration of the intestines from tubercular disease. [Webster1913]


Tuberculosis resulting from extension into the skin from underlying atypical mycobacterial infection, most commonly of cervical lymph nodes. [CancerWEB]

Scrofulosis/ Scrophulosis

Scrofula. [Stedman 1918].

Example from an 1886 death certificate from Illinois:

Scrumpox A name used in England among school-children for impetigo contagiosa. [Gould1916]


The vernacular term, anciently scorbie, for scorbutus. [Hoblyn1865].

Scurvy is a disease that results from insufficient intake of vitamin C and leads to the formation of livid spots on the skin, spongy gums and bleeding from almost all mucous membranes. The spots are most abundant on the thighs and legs, and a person with the ailment looks pale, feels depressed, and is partially immobilized. Scurvy was at one time common among sailors whose ships were out to sea longer than perishable fruits and vegetables could be stored and by soldiers who were similarly separated from these foods for extended periods. Symptoms include: weakness, joint pain, black-and-blue marks on the skin, gum disease, corkscrew hairs. It takes about three months of vitamin C deprivation to begin inducing the symptoms of scurvy. Untreated scurvy is always fatal, but since all that is required for full recovery is the resumption of normal vitamin C intake, death by scurvy is rare in modern times. Scurvy was probably first observed as a disease by Hippocrates. [Wikipedia].

Example from a 1779 London, England Death Record:

Scurvy of the Alps


Black Scurvy

Scurvy resulting in induration of the legs and gangrene. Also called; black leprosy, joint evil and the scourge of the north. [Schmidt2007]

Button Scurvy

An epidemic cachectic affection, which has appeared in the southern counties of Ireland, and is characterized by indolent button like growths of the corpus papillare of the skin. It appears to be allied to framboesia. [Dunglison1868]

Land Scurvy

An affection, consisting in circular spots, stripes, or patches, scattered over the thighs, arms, and trunk; it is called by Bateman purpura hæmorrhagica, from the occasional hæmorrhage from the mouth, nostrils, or viscera. [Hoblyn1855]


Second Disease

Scarlet Fever. Second of six classic exanthems, or rash-associated diseases, of childhood.


The sudden attack or recurrence of a disease. A single episode of epilepsy; often a seizure is named for the kind of epilepsy it represents (see under epilepsy). Called also convulsion, fit, and ictus epilepticus. [Dorland]


The poisoned condition resulting from the presence of pathogens or their toxins, as in septicemia. [Heritage].

Example from an 1892 Death Record from Vojnivice, Czech Republic:


Containing or resulting from disease-causing organisms; "a septic sore throat". [Wordnet]


That morbid process commonly known as blood poisoning, in which, with or without a local site of infection, there is an invasion of the blood by bacteria or their toxins. [Thomas1907].

Example from a 1920 Death Certificate from Louisiana:


A mass or tumefaction caused by the localized accumulation of serum within a tissue or organ. [CancerWEB]

Serpigo Ringworm or tetter, [Thomas1875]

Serum Sickness

A delayed allergic reaction to the injection of an antiserum caused by an antibody reaction to an antigen in the donor serum (syn: serum disease) [Wordnet]

Sexually Transmitted Disease

Any of various diseases, including chancroid, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, that are usually contracted through sexual intercourse or other intimate sexual contact. [Heritage]

Information sheet from NYS Dept of Health

The Shakes

The fever and ague. [Colloq. U.S.]. Malarial Fever. [Webster]

Shaking Palsy

A degenerative disorder of the central nervous system characterized by tremor and impaired muscular coordination; Parkinson's Disease. [Wordnet]

Sharp Fever

Epidemic Typhus

Shell Shock Posttraumatic stress disorder resulting from wartime combat or similar experiences. No longer in scientific use. Also called battle fatigue, combat fatigue, combat neurosis, war neurosis. [Heritage]


Any condition produced by infection with organisms of the genus Shigella, such as bacillary dysentery. [Dorland]

Information sheet from NYS Dept of Health

Shinbone Fever

Trench Fever


This is probably a corruption of the Latin cingulum, a girdle, so called from the situation which it occupies on the trunk of the body. It is the Herpes zoster of Bateman. [Hoblyn1855]

A popular name for herpes zoster. [Thomas1875]

Herpes zoster, an erysipelatous eruption around the middle of the body. [Cleaveland1886]

An acute viral infection characterized by inflammation of the sensory ganglia of certain spinal or cranial nerves and the eruption of vesicles along the affected nerve path. It usually strikes only one side of the body and is often accompanied by severe neuralgia. Also called herpes zoster. [Heritage]

Fact sheet from CDC
Information sheet from NYS Dept of Health

Example from a 1758 Death Record from England:

Ship Fever

Typhus Gravior.

Example from an 1850 Death Record from Illinois:


The state of one struck suddenly, without apparent cause, and as if by the influence of the stars or planets. The ancients comprised under the name, different morbid conditions, such as paralysis, apoplexy, and gangrene. [Dunglison1868]

Sigmoid Carcinoma

Sigmoid: In human anatomy, the lower colon (the lower portion of the large bowel). "Sigmoid" is short for "sigmoid colon." The word "sigmoid" came from the Greek letter "sigma" which is shaped like a C. It also means curved in two directions like the letter S. A sigmoid curve is an S-shaped curve. [].

Simple Fever

Febris Simplex. Simple fever is that which has no predominant character - bilious, inflammatory, or nervous; and which is unaccompanied by any local determination, hyperemia, or complication. It may be continued, remittent or intermittent. [Dunglison 1874].

Example from an 1874 death certificate from England:

Sinking Chills

The congestive form of intermittent fever; called pernicious fever or congestive fever. It was known in the west as sinking chills.

Example from an 1850 Death Record from Illinois:


A localized softening of the brain substance, due to hemorrhage or inflammation. Three varieties, distinguished by their color and representing different stages of the morbid process, are known respectively as red, yellow, and white, softening. [Webster].

Example from a 1921 Death Certificate from Illinois:



Situs Inversus

A congenital condition in which the organs of the viscera are transposed through the sagittal plane so that the heart, for example, is on the right side of the body. [Heritage]

Sixth Disease

Exanthem Subitum. Sixth of six classic exanthems, or rash-associated diseases, of childhood.

Slapped Cheek Syndrome

Fifth Disease


Involuntary flow of saliva, from sluggishness of degluition, without increased secretion. It is seen in the infant, the aged, and the idiot. Also called Slabbering, Slobbering, Drivelling, and (Old English) Pirtling. [Dunglison1868].

Drooling; defiling with saliva. [Webster1913]

Sleeping Sickness

African Trypanosomiasis or Encephalitis Lethargica.

Fact sheet from CDC

Sleepy Sickness

Sleeping Sickness


Dead tissue separating from the surrounding tissue. [CivilWarMed]

Slow Fever

Typhoid Fever, Enteric fever.

Example from an 1888 death certificate from New Brunswick, Canada:


An acute, highly infectious, often fatal disease caused by a poxvirus and characterized by high fever and aches with subsequent widespread eruption of pimples that blister, produce pus, and form pockmarks. Also called variola. [Heritage].

There are three forms of smallpox: variola major, variola minor and hemorrhagic smallpox, or black pox. These vary in severity and fatality with black pox being 100% fatal. [Webster]

"smallpox" was first used in popular English literature: sometime before 1588. [Webster]

Fact sheet from WHO

Example from a 1734 London, England Death Record:

Example from an 1874 death certificate from West Virginia:

Example from a 1920 Death Certificate from Louisiana:

Hemorrhagic Smallpox

Another variety is that in which the eruption assumes the haemorrhagic form owing to bleeding taking place into the pocks after their formation. This is apt to be accompanied with haemorrhages from various mucous surfaces (particularly in the case of females), occasionally to a dangerous degree and with symptoms of great prostration. Many of such cases prove fatal. [Britannica1911]

Malignant Smallpox

A still more serious form is that termed malignant, toxic or purpuric smallpox, in which there is intense streptococcus septicaemia, and the patient is from the onset overwhelmed with the poison and quickly succumbs. The rash scarcely, if at all, appearing or showing in the haemorrhagic or purpuric character. [Britannica1911]

Mild Smallpox

During 1896 a very mild type of smallpox began to prevail in the South and later gradually spread over the country. The mortality was very low and it was usually at first mistaken for chicken pox or some new disease called "Cuban itch," "elephant itch," "Spanish measles," "Japanese measles," "bumps," "impetigo," "Porto Rico scratches," "Manila scab," "Porto Rico itch," "army itch," "African itch," "cedar itch," "Manila itch," "bean itch," "Dhobi itch," "Filipino itch," "nigger itch," "kangaroo itch," "Hungarian itch," "Italian itch," "bold hives," "eruptive grip," "beanpox," "waterpox," or "swinepox."

Purpuric Smallpox

Malignant Smallpox

Toxic Smallpox

Malignant Smallpox

West Indian modified Smallpox

Variola Minor

Snail Fever




Soft Chancre


Brain Softening

Cerebral Softening.

Example from an 1857 death certificate from West Virginia:

Example from a 1920 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Cerebral Softening

A localized softening of the brain substance, due to hemorrhage or inflammation. Three varieties, distinguished by their color and representing different stages of the morbid process, are known respectively as red, yellow, and white, softening. [Webster].


Red Softening

Cerebral softening resulting from inflammation. [Dunglison1874]

White Softening

Cerebral softening resulting from imperfect nutrition, due to deficient supply of blood. [Dunglison1874]

Yellow Softening

Cerebral softening resulting from the death of a portion of the cerebral tissue. [Dunglison1874]


Aphtha; roundish pearl-colored specks or flakes in the mouth, on the lips, etc., terminating in white sloughs. They are commonly characteristic of thrush.

Example from an 1863 Church Record in Austria:

Sore Mouth


Sore Throat

Angina Simplex

Sore Throat Distemper

The croup, diphtheria.

Malignant  Sore Throat

Cynanche Maligna

Spanish Disease

Syphilis. The Italians and the Dutch called it the Spanish disease.

Spasms / Spasmus

A sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle or group of muscles; Cramps. [Heritage]

Spasm of the Glottis Asthma Thymicum. [Dunglison 1874]

Example from an 1885 death certificate from Illinois:

Infantile Spasms Primary generalized epileptic seizures occurring in infants between birth and twelve months of age consisting of brief synchronous contractions of the neck, torso, and both arms. These seizures often occur in infants with underlying neurologic diseases. [CancerWEB]

Spastic Diplegia

Historically known as Little's Disease, is a form of cerebral palsy (CP) that is a neuromuscular condition of hypertonia and spasticity in the muscles of the lower extremities of the human body, usually those of the legs, hips and pelvis. Doctor William John Little's first recorded encounter with cerebral palsy is reported to have been among children who displayed signs of spastic diplegia. This condition is by far the most common type of CP, occurring in almost 70% of all cases. [Wikipedia]

Example from a 1906 Death Certificate from Massachusetts:


Gangrene when it occupies the whole limb of a body. [Dunglison1868]

Spider Fingers

Marfan's Syndrome

Spina Bifida

A congenital defect in which the spinal column is imperfectly closed so that part of the meninges or spinal cord protrudes, often resulting in hydrocephalus and other neurological disorders. Also called schistorrhachis. [Heritage].

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Spirillum Fever

Relapsing Fever


Typhoid Fever, Febricula, Little Fever. [Symptom, Nature, etc. of the Febricula or Little Fever, Manningham, 1746].



Inflammation of the spleen. [American Heritage]

Example from an 1875 death certificate from England:

Spondylitis Deformans

Arthritis and osteitis deformans involving the spinal column; marked by nodular deposits at the edges of the intervertebral disks with ossification of the ligaments and bony ankylosis of the intervertebral articulations, it results in a rounded kyphosis with rigidity. [CancerWEB]

Spotted Fever

Cerebro-Spinal Fever. [A Treatise on the Continued Fevers, Wilson, 1881].

A febrile disease typically characterized by a skin eruption, such as typhus gravior, epidemic cerebral meningitis, and the infections caused by tick-borne rickettsiae (Rocky Mountain spotted fever, boutonneuse fever, and others). [Dorland].

Example from a 1740 Death Record from England:

Example from an 1885 Death Record from Michigan:


A chronic form of malabsorption syndrome occurring in both tropical and nontropical forms. [Dorland].

Also called: Sprew.





St. Andrew's Disease


St. Anthony's Fire

Ergotism; aka Ignis Sacer and Holy Fire, also used for Anthrax and later for Erysipelas. [Schmidt2005]

Erysipelas. [Hoblyn1855].

Erysipelas. [Dunglison1868].

Erysipelas in England. [Erysipelas and Child-Bed Fever, Minor, 1874].

The erysipelas; -- popularly so called because it was supposed to have been cured by the intercession of Saint Anthony. [Webster1913]

Erysipelas, Anthrax. [Gould1916]

Erysipelas; -- an eruptive fever which St. Anthony was supposed to cure miraculously. --Hoblyn. [Webster]

Ergotism;  is the effect of long-term ergot poisoning, classically due to the ingestion of the alkaloids produced by the Claviceps purpurea fungus which infects rye and other cereals, and more recently by the action of a number of ergoline-based drugs. It is also known as ergotoxicosis or ergot poisoning. [Wikipedia]

The history of Saint Anthony’s Fire is fascinating but complex. In the majority of the old documents it is depicted as a horrible disease leading to excruciating pain, gangrene and hallucinations. Many diseases including black death and syphilis have been named in this way; however after the Middle Ages, Saint Anthony’s Fire became a synonym of ergotism in France and Germany, of erysipelas in England, of herpes zoster in Italy. While the term of ‘Saint Anthony’s Fire’ is outdated when it refers to ergotism or erysipelas, in Italy herpes zoster is, at present still, more well known by its eponym. [].

Medicinenet St Anthony's Fire - Ergotism

CSP Ergot and Ergotism

UCLA Botanical Garden - Claviceps

Health and Energy - Diseases linked to Molds

St. Gothard's Disease

Ankylostomiasis. [Gould1916]

St. Hubert's Disease

Hydrophobia. [Gould1916]

St. John's Dance

St. Vitus' Dance, chorea

St. John's Evil


St. Roch's Disease

Bubo. [Gould1916]

St. Sement's Disease

Syphilis. [Gould1916]

St. Vitus' Dance

Chorea Santi Viti. It consisted in tremulous and jerking motions of the limbs. The name of St. Vitus' Dance was given to this affection, in consequence of the cure produced on certain women of disordered mind, upon their visiting the chapel of St. Vitus, near Ulm, and there dancing from morning till night. [Hoblyn1855].

Chorea occurring chiefly in children and associated with rheumatic fever; Sydenham's Chorea. [Heritage].

Example from an 1869 death certificate from West Virginia:

Example from an 1881 Death Record from Michigan

Status Epilepticus

That state in which an epileptic has a number of fits in rapid and often regular succession, so that he does not become conscious between them. The condition is often associated with fever and frequently causes death. [Appleton1904].

A condition in which there are continuing attacks of epilepsy without intervals of consciousness; can lead to brain damage and death. [Wordnet].

Example from a 1925 Death Certificate from Louisiana:

Status Lymphaticus Hyperplasia of the lymphatic tissue formerly believed to be a cause of sudden death in infancy and childhood but now no longer recognized as a genuine pathological entity called also lymphatism. [Merriam-Webster].

Old term for a syndrome of supposed enlargement of the thymus and lymph nodes in infants and young children, formerly believed to be associated with unexplained sudden death; it was also erroneously believed that pressure of the thymus on the trachea might cause death during anesthesia. Prominence of these structures is now considered normal in young children, including those who have died suddenly without preceding illnesses that might lead to atrophy of lymphoid tissue. [Cancerweb].

Example from a 1921 Death Certificate from Georgia:


Constriction or narrowing of the pores or vessels. Stricture. Constipation,. Suppression or stopping or stoppage of the evacuations. [Dunglison1874]


A constriction or narrowing of a duct or passage; a stricture. [Heritage]


Hyperaemia of the lungs. Congestion or accumulation of blood in the pulmonary vessels. [Dunglison1868]


A child or fetus dead at birth.  [Heritage]


Dead at birth.

Example from a 1734 Death Record from England:

Example from an 1898 Cemetery record from Maine:

Example from a 1909 Canadian Death Certificate:


A spasmodic action of the muscles of the side, accompanied with pain, produced by running, etc. [Hoblyn1855]

A local sharp pain; an acute pain, like the piercing of a needle; as, a stitch in the side. [Webster].

A symptom of Pleurisy. [Buchan1785]

Stitches in the Side

Intercostal Neuralgia. [Gould1916]

Stomach Disease


Stomach Flu



Inflammation of the mouth. [Appleton1904]

Any of numerous inflammatory diseases of the mouth having various causes (as mechanical trauma, irritants, allergy, vitamin deficiency, or infection). [Merriam-Webster].

Example from a 1911 Death Certificate from Ohio:

Stomatitis Mycosa

Thrush; an affection, generally occurring during the cachetic stage of all diseases, characterized by the growth and development on the mucous surfaces with pavement epithelium of a specific yeast fungus, known as odium albicans. It is a beginning of decomposition, and a sure forerunner of death. Nosologically, the name of Thrush is given to an idiopathic disease common in the newborn, characterized by inflammation of the mucous membrane of the digestive tract, and by the development upon the membrane of odium albicans. The principal seat of the lesion is the mouth. [The Practice of Medicine, Jousset, 1901]

Example from an 1897 death record from Michigan:


Calculi are most commonly found in the gallbladder, kidney, or urinary bladder. Also called stone. [American Heritage].

Example from a 1746 Death Record from England:


Tubercular tumours of the face, the acne indurata of Bateman. [Hoblyn1855]



Example from a 1779 Death Record from England:




To injure or impair by overuse or overexertion. [Heritage]

Stranger's Fever

Yellow or remittent fever, which is endemic in certain places, and to which strangers are especially liable. [Dunglison1868]


State of a part too closely constricted. Thus we say that there is strangulation of an intestinal hernia, when the opening that gives passage to the portion of the protruded intestine seriously intercepts the continuity of the digestive canal. In Legal Medicine, it means the forcible obstruction of the air-passages, by a ligature or by the hand, for criminal purposes. See suffocation. [Dunglison1874]

Stranguria / Strangury

A condition marked by slow, painful urination, caused by muscular spasms of the urethra and bladder. [Heritage]

Strep Throat

An infection of the throat, often epidemic, caused by hemolytic streptococci and characterized by fever and inflammation of the tonsils. [Heritage]


Streptococcus; any of several spherical or oval bacteria of the genus Streptococcus, occurring in pairs or chains, certain species of which are pathogenic for humans, causing scarlet fever, tonsillitis, etc. [].

A round to ovoid, gram-positive, often pathogenic bacterium of the genus Streptococcus that occurs in pairs or chains, many species of which destroy red blood cells and cause various diseases in humans, including erysipelas, scarlet fever, and strep throat. [American Heritage].

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Strawberry Tongue

The characteristic tongue of scarlatina, in which the vessels of the fungiform papillae become turgid, causing the papillae to stand out as red points, in marked contrast with the thick coating of fur on the filiform papillae. [Gould1916]

Stricture Pylorus

Stricture: The abnormal narrowing of a canal, duct, or passage. [CivilWarMed]

Pylorus: The opening between the stomach and the duodenum. [].

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Delaware:

Strophulus A genus of cutaneous diseases peculiar to infants, known by the names of gum rash, red gum, tooth eruption, etc., and consisting of pimples on the face, neck, arms, and loins, generally in clusters, surrounded with a reddish halo. [Hoblyn1855]

A papular eruption of various species and form, peculiar to infants. [Thomas1875]

Strophulus Albidus The white gum, a name for a variety of strophulus intertinctus. [Thomas1875]
Strophulus Candidus A variety in which the papulae are larger, have no inflammation, but a smooth, shiny surface, which gives them a lighter color than the cuticle near them. [Thomas1875]
Strophulus Confertius A variety in which numerous papillae, varying in size, appear on different parts of the body in infants during dentition, and is therefore called tooth rash. [Thomas1875]
Crowded Strophulus Strophulus Confertius
Flying Strophulus Strophulus Volaticus
Strophulus Intertinctus A variety of strophulus in which the child's skin appears like printed cotton, from the various disposition of the characteristic papulae, or seems covered with a red gummy exudation; therefore popularly termed red gum, and red gown. [Thomas1875]
Shining Strophulus Strophulus Candidus
Spotted Strophulus Strophulus Intertinctus
Stained Strophulus Strophulus Intertinctus
Thick Strophulus Strophulus Confertius
Strophulus Volaticus The wildfire rash, a species having small circular patches or clusters of papulae arising successively on different parts of the body. [Thomas1875]
White Strophulus Strophulus Albidus


A scrofulous swelling, or tumor; also, scrofula itself. Sometimes applied to bronchocele. [Thomas1875]

Goiter; as pertaining to Tuberculosis; Scrofula. [Webster1913]


Scrofulous; having struma. [CancerWEB]


The Croup (from the west coast of Scotland)

Stupid Fever

Typhus fever. [Stewart1898]


A state of mental numbness, as that resulting from shock; a daze. See Synonyms at lethargy. [Dorland]


Situated under the clavicle, or collar bone; as, the subclavian arteries. [Websters].


Minute vesicles surrounded by an area of reddened skin, produced by excessive sweating. [Webster]

Sudor Anglicus

A very severe epidemic disease, characterized by profuse sweating, which appeared in England in 1486, and recurred at different times until about the middle of the sixteenth century. It was accompanied with coldness, excessive prostration of strength, palpitations, frequency and inequality of the pulse, etc. and terminated favorably or unfavorably in the course of 24 hours. [Dunglison1874].

The English sweating fever; a deadly pestilential fever which several times ravaged England during the Middle Ages. [Dorland]

Sudor Anglicus Niger

A form of Sudor Anglicus in which the perspiration was of a black color. Also called Black English Sweating Sickness or fever. [Dunglison1874]


Death, or suspended animation from impeded respiration, whether caused by the inhalation of noxious gases, drowning, hanging, strangling, or smothering. [Dunglison1874].

The stoppage of respiration. In the nineteenth century, suffocation was reported as being accidental or homicidal. The accidents could be by the impaction of pieces of food or other obstacles in the pharynx or by the entry of foreign bodies into the larynx (as a seed, coin, or food). Suffocation of newborn children by smothering under bedclothes may have happened from carelessness as well as from intent. However, the deaths also could have been due to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), wherein the sudden and unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant, while asleep, typically occurs between the ages of three weeks and five months and is not explained by careful postmortem studies. Synonyms of SIDS: crib death and cot death. It was felt that victims of homicidal suffocation were chiefly infants or feeble and infirm persons. [NGSQ1988]

Sugar Cataract

Clouding of the lens of the eye. In people with diabetes, this condition is sometimes referred to as "sugar cataract." [HyperBiology]

Suicide 1. The act of taking one's own life voluntary and intentionally; self-murder; specifically (Law), the felonious killing of one's self; the deliberate and intentional destruction of one's own life by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind. 2. One guilty of self-murder; a felo-de-se. [Webster1913]

Common ways to commit suicide were Drowning and Hanging; Cutting one's throat, Poisoning and Shooting were not as prevalent.

Summer Catarrh

Hay Fever

Summer Clavus Ergot poisoning which is caused by a fungus which grows on grain, especially rye.It is found in the wet season of spring and summer.

Summer Complaint

Cholera Infantum. A popular name in the United States for diarrhea occurring in summer. It is often, also, made to include dysentery and cholera infantum. With some it means cholera infantum only. [Dunglison1868].

A popular name for diarrhea or for cholera infantum. [Thomas1870].

The popular designation of diarrhea, occurring in the summer; also, of cholera infantum. [Harris1882].

Example from an 1858 death certificate from West Virginia:

Example from a German Church in New York. Sommer is the German word for Summer:

Summer Fever

Hay Fever

Summer Influenza of Italy

Sandfly Fever


Sunstroke and Insanity - Dr. Hyslop, of Bethlehem Hospital, states that India is par excellence the tropical country which is most liable to cause sunstroke in Europeans. Alcohol, syphilis, malarial fever, excesses of any kind, have a distinct predisposing effect. Sunstroke in infancy and childhood is a not infrequent cause of idiocy and dementia, and is to be suspected when there is no evidence of hereditary taint or congenital deficiency in the child. In adult life the sequelæ of sunstroke often resemble in a marked degree the symptoms of general paralysis in its mental, motor, and paralytic symptoms. But if the cause of such abnormalities be sunstroke, the prognosis is on the whole very favourable. In the same way epilepsy following sunstroke is very amenable to treatment. Dr. Hyslop states that the whole pathology of insanity of sunstroke is in accordance with the theory of vaso-motor disturbance. (Journal of Mental Science, October 1890.)

Insolation, or thermic fever; a condition produced by exposure to the sun, and marked by convulsions, coma, and a high temperature of the skin; Heatstroke. [Dorland]

Any affection produced by the action of the sun on some part of the body; especially, a sudden prostration of the physical powers, with symptoms resembling those of apoplexy, occasioned by exposure to excessive heat, and often terminating fatally; coup de soleil. [Webster].

Example from an 1880 death certificate from West Virginia:

Suppression of Urine

Ischuria. [American Heritage].

Example from an 1857 Death Certificate from England:


The formation or discharge of pus. [Heritage]


To load the stomach with food, so that sickness or uneasiness ensues; to eat to excess. [Webster].

Example from a 1779 London, England Death Record:

Swamp Sickness

Milk Sickness

Sweating Sickness/Fever

A febrile epidemic disease which prevailed in some countries of Europe, but particularly in England, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, characterized by profuse sweating. Death often occurred in a few hours. Anglicus Sudor. [Webster]


A protuberance; a prominence; especially (Med.), an unnatural prominence or protuberance; as, a scrofulous swelling. [Dorland]

Swelled Head

Erysipelas. [A Treatise on the Nature, Causes, and Treatments of Erysipelas 1844]

Swimming of the Head


Swine Pox

A species of varicella, in which the vesicles are pointed and the fluid is clear throughout. [Thomas1875]

Varicella. [Dunglison1868]


People of weak nerves or delicate constitutions are liable to swoonings or fainting fits. These indeed are seldom dangerous when duly attended to; but when wholly neglected, or improperly treated, they often prove hurtful, and sometimes fatal. [Buchan1785]

Sydenham's Chorea

A nervous disorder occurring chiefly in childhood or during pregnancy, closely associated with rheumatic fever, and characterized by rapid, jerky, involuntary movements of the body. [Heritage]


A fainting fit attended with a complete abolition of sensation and thought. [Buchan1798]

Complete and, commonly, sudden loss of sensation and motion, with considerable diminution, or entire suspension of the pulsations of the heart and respiratory movements. Syncope is, commonly, an affection of no consequence; but, sometimes, it is an index of diseased heart. [Dunglison1868]

A brief loss of consciousness caused by a temporary deficiency of oxygen in the brain; a swoon. [Heritage].

Example from an 1896 death certificate from West Virginia:


A species of continued fever, characterized by increased heat; and by quick, strong, and hard pulse; urine highcoloured; disturbance of mind slight. It requires, of course, the most active treatment. [Dunglison1868]

Synochal Fever



Continued fever, compounded of synocha and typhus: - in its commencement often resembling the former; in its progress, the latter. [Dunglison1868]

A continuous fever. [Obs.]. Note: Synocha and synochus were used as epithets of two distinct types of fever, but in different senses at different periods. The same disease is placed under synocha by one author, under synochus by another. --Quain. [Webster1913]

A continuous fever. Typhoid Fever [CancerWEB]

Example from an 1865 death certificate from England:


Vulgarly called pox. The true venereal disease, otherwise termed lues venerea, and morbus gallicus. [Thomas1875].

The pox, or venereal disease; a chronic, specific, infectious disease, usually communicated by sexual intercourse or by hereditary transmission, and occurring in three stages known as primary, secondary, and tertiary syphilis. See under {Primary}, {Secondary}, and {Tertiary}. [Webster1913].

A chronic infectious disease caused by a spirochete (Treponema pallidum), either transmitted by direct contact, usually in sexual intercourse, or passed from mother to child in utero, and progressing through three stages characterized respectively by local formation of chancres, ulcerous skin eruptions, and systemic infection leading to general paresis. [Heritage].

"syphilis" was first used in popular English literature: sometime before 1759. [Webster]

Information sheet from NYS Dept of Health

Example from an 1892 Death Certificate from Australia:

Congenital Syphilis

Congenital syphilis is a severe, disabling, and often life-threatening infection seen in infants. A pregnant mother who has syphilis can spread the disease through the placenta to the unborn infant. Alternative Names Congenital lues; Fetal syphilis. [Healthline].

Congenital syphilis is syphilis present in utero and at birth, and occurs when a child is born to a mother with secondary or tertiary syphilis. Untreated syphilis results in a high risk of a bad outcome of pregnancy, including Mulberry molars in the fetus. Syphilis can cause miscarriages, premature births, stillbirths, or death of newborn babies. Some infants with congenital syphilis have symptoms at birth, but most develop symptoms later. Untreated babies can have deformities, delays in development, or seizures along with many other problems such as rash, fever, swollen liver and spleen, anemia, and jaundice. Sores on infected babies are infectious. Rarely, the symptoms of syphilis go unseen in infants so that they develop the symptoms of late-stage syphilis, including damage to their bones, teeth, eyes, ears, and brain. [Wikipedia].

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:


Endemic Syphilis

Nonvenereal Syphilis

Hereditary Syphilis

Or hereditary syphilis , syphilis passed to the newborn by an infected mother. The infant is often born with brain damage, blindness, deafness, and/or deformities of the bones and teeth. In the US, it is estimated that 3,400 babies are born each year who need syphilis treatment.

Example from a 1921 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Infantile Syphilis

Hereditary syphilis or Congenital Syphilis.

Example from an 1884 death certificate from Illinois:

Primary Syphilis

The initial stage of syphilis, including the period from the development of the original lesion or chancre to the first manifestation of symptoms indicative of general constitutional infection. [Webster1913].

The first stage of syphilis that is marked by the development of a chancre and the spread of the causative spirochete in the tissues of the body. [Webster]

Secondary Syphilis

The second stage of syphilis, including the period from the first development of constitutional symptoms to the time when the bones and the internal organs become involved. [Webster1913].

The second stage of syphilis that appears from 2 to 6 months after primary infection, that is marked by lesions especially in the skin but also in organs and tissues, and that lasts from 3 to 12 weeks. [Webster]

Tertiary Syphilis

Syphilis in an advanced stage, characterized by localized deposits in the connective tissue of various parts of the body, chiefly in the form of syphilomata. It is attended with deep seated ulceration of the skin or mucous membranes and syphilitic osteitis, together with organic affections of viscera and of the nerves and blood vessels. [Appleton1904]

The third and last stage of syphilis, in which it invades the bones and internal organs. [Webster1913].

The third stage of syphilis that develops after the disappearance of the secondary symptoms and is marked by ulcers in and gummas under the skin and commonly by involvement of the skeletal, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. [Webster].

Example from a 1920 Death Certificate from Louisiana:


A mania, with which some persons are affected, so that they subject themselves to antivenereal treatment, under the erroneous impression that they are affected with syphilis. [Dunglison1868]