Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

EIGHT-DAY SICKNESS, n.phr. A translation of the Gaelic tinneas nan ochd laithean, the name given on the island of St Kilda to infantile lockjaw (Tetanus neonatorum). Now hist. w.Sc. 1830–40  in Brit. and Foreign Medico-Chir. Review XXIX. 177:
No less than 33 [deaths] were due to a disease termed by the inhabitants the “eight-day sickness,” among medical writers, the trismus neonatorum, or infantile lockjaw.
w.Sc. 1898  (St Kilda) R. Kearton Nature and a Camera 33:
Formerly the infants of St Kilda used to be nearly all carried off by a mysterious malady known as “eight-day sickness.” The disease generally manifested itself by the little stranger refusing to partake of nourishment on the fifth day after its advent into the world, and proved fatal on the eighth.
Fif. 1943 19 :
The cause of eight-day sickness was contamination of the stump of the umbilical cord by dressing it with fulmar oil which had — likely from previous cases and at the hands of the midwife — become infected with tetanus germs. During the years 1830–46 nearly 50 of the infantile deaths were due to this. From 1891 to the exodus of the inhabitants there were no cases owing to the advent of skilled nursing.

Eight-day sickness n. phr.

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Eight-day sickness n. phr.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Apr 2019 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down