Word of the Day: Elephantiasis

Filed Under: Word of the Day

el·e·phan·ti·a·sis[1]   [el-uh-fuhn-tahy-uh-sis, -fan-]

1.Pathology . a chronic filarial disease resulting in lymphatic obstruction, characterized by marked enlargement of the parts affected, esp. of the legs and scrotum, transmitted by mosquitoes.

2.Untoward growth or development: bureaucratic elephantiasis.

[Origin: 1575–85; < L < Gk elephantíāsis, equiv. to elephant- elephant + -iāsis -iasis]

The first thing I thought when I realized today was “e” day was elephant. But, since most people have a grasp on the whole elephant thing, I carried it a bit further to elephantiasis – because I’m weird.

Here’s the thing about elephantiasis I didn’t know: it’s not congenital. Here’s another thing I didn’t know: you get it from mosquitoes. More specifically from worms in the mosquitoes and even more specifically, Wolbachia bacteria in said worms.


Before I learned this wrinkle of knowledge, I felt oddly superior to those poor, unfortunate[2] souls who had been afflicted with elephantiasis. And then I found out about the whole mosquito thing and since the state bird of Arkansas should be the mosquito, I started to reconsider my feelings of superiority.

In my twenty-something years of living in Arkansas, I have it on good authority I’ve been bitten by those mosquito bitches [Cause girl mosquitoes are the ones who bite ya.] at least five gazillion times so I’m shocked and relieved my leg hasn’t swollen to five times its normal size.

Remember The Elephant Man movie? And how that was based on a real guy? And Merrick was called the Elephant Man. So, one would assume he had elephantiasis. And one would be wrong. DNA tests were preformed and they still don’t know what was wrong with the guy.

Thought for the day: DEET is your friend.


  1. [1]“elephantiasis.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 24 Jul. 2010.
  2. [2]If you have a weak stomach, don’t click on “unfortunate”. You’ve been warned.