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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Petechiae \Pe*tech"i*[ae]\, n. pl.; sing. Petechia. [NL., fr. LL. peteccia; cf. F. p['e]t['e]chie, It. petecchia, Sp. petequia, Gr. ? a label, plaster.] (Med.) Small crimson, purple, or livid spots, like flea-bites, due to extravasation of blood, which appear on the skin in malignant fevers, etc.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

plural petechiae, "small crimson or purple spots on skin," c.1795 (from 1580s in English texts as an Italian word), Modern Latin, from Italian petecchia "specks or freckles on the face," in plural form petecchie "measles," of unknown origin. Related: Petechial.


n. A small spot, especially on an organ, caused by bleeding underneath the skin

  1. n. a minute red or purple spot on the surface of the skin as the result of tiny hemorrhages of blood vessels in the skin (as in typhoid fever)

  2. [also: petechiae (pl)]


A petechia, plural petechiae, is a small (1–2 mm) red or purple spot on the skin, caused by a minor bleed from broken capillary blood vessels.

Petechia refers to one of the three descriptive types of bleeding into the skin differentiated by size, the other two being purpura and ecchymosis. Petechiae are by definition less than 3 mm.

The term is almost always used in the plural, since a single lesion is seldom noticed or significant.

Usage examples of "petechia".

The effects of scurvy were manifested on every hand, and in all its various stages, from the muddy, pale complexion, pale gums, feeble, languid muscular motions, lowness of spirits, and fetid breath, to the dusky, dirty, leaden complexion, swollen features, spongy, purple, livid, fungoid, bleeding gums, loose teeth, oedematous limbs, covered with livid vibices, and petechiae spasmodically flexed, painful and hardened extremities, spontaneous hemorrhages from mucous canals, and large, illconditioned, spreading ulcers covered with a dark purplish fungus growth.