The term kibe is a very infrequently used term that was used to describe an ulcerated chilblain, especially of the heel. Most podiatrists probably have never heard of the word.

Lewis Durlacher in his 1845 book, A Treatise on Corns, Bunions, the Diseases of Nails, and the General Management of the Feet described it thus:

When the chilblains breaks, and becomes what is termed a “kibe”, it should not be tampered with, and the ordinary medical attendant should be consulted, as delay cannot but be injurious.

The word was a ‘word of the day’ at where its word usage was considered very rare.

The word ‘kibe’ appears several times in Shakespeare’s works where it may have been somewhat of a vulgar word. From Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; Act 5, Scene 1:

By the Lord, Horatio, this three years I have took note of it, the age is grown so picked that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier he galls his kibe.

According to one analysis of Shakespeare, it appears it could have been used more as a metaphor than refer to an actual real chilblain.


Print held in the Yale University collection done by Henry William Bunbury (1750-1811)

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