It can not be high/low according to my understanding.
Fever is fever.

He is suffering from fever of high temperature.
He is suffering from high fever.

  • 1
    Assuming a fever is any temperature > 98.6, why can't 98.7 be a "low fever" and 103.9 be a "high fever"? Jan 5, 2015 at 19:22
  • 1
    "High fever" is the common term (in the US), and would refer to a temp above, say 103F. (Though the actual break point between "fever" and "high fever" is not codified anywhere that I know of.)
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 5, 2015 at 19:36
  • 1
    should be "a high fever"
    – kns98
    Jan 5, 2015 at 20:55

4 Answers 4


"Fever is not fever" any more than "depression is depression."

One can suffer from mild, moderate or severe depression, episodic depression, etc.

With the ranges being disputed, fever can be low grade (usually between 99.9° to 101.4°), fever (101.5° - 104.5°), high fever (104°.6° - 106.4°) and hyperpyrexia - 106.5° and above, treated as a medical emergency. The only reason that it's hyperpyrexia instead of very high fever is because, well, writing very high fever as an admission diagnosis doesn't fly. If it's caused by a drug reaction or certain diseases, it's called malignant hyperthermia.

Rest assured that doctors respect these differences. Blood cultures are taken for high fever (lower if in the presence of immunocompromised status), and ice packs, /"cold blankets"/ wet sheets with fans, etc. for hyperpyrexia.

Similarly, a person can have grades of low temperature, called hypothermia.

  • Why the quotation marks?
    – jocap
    Jan 5, 2015 at 21:05

It is not wrong.

A body temperature of 98.6 F (37 C) is baseline. A fever is a higher-than-normal body temperature.

(and therefore can be known as a high fever or a high temperature)

Terms used to describe fever or fever types:

Low-grade fevers range from about 100 F-101 F while high-grade fevers range from about 103 F-104 F. Extremely high fevers are also termed hyperpyrexia.

Consider these simple expressions:

  • got (a) high fever/temperature.
  • down with a fever.
  • running a fever/temperature

  • E.g. Jane can't go to school today. She's running a fever.


I think the usual expression is "he is suffering from a high-grade fever."

In this expression the word "grade" is used in the following sense:

Grade: A particular level of rank, quality, proficiency, intensity, or value.

  • I can't recall ever hearing anyone say "high-grade fever". To my ears it's nonsense, since a high fever cannot be considered "high quality" or "high proficiency".
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 5, 2015 at 19:38
  • @HotLicks - "low-grade" fever, however, is correct, for a mild elevation over normal, say 100.6°. Jan 5, 2015 at 20:10
  • 2
    If you google "high-grade fever" you can see it's a common expression. Here's an example in a paper from the NIH (US National Institute for Health): ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15166919 "Low-grade and high-grade fever at presentation of acute pulmonary embolism."
    – John D
    Jan 5, 2015 at 20:11
  • 2
    High-grade fever is a clinical term; it's correct, but only healthcare providers or medical researchers would ever use it, which is why it appears in your link— a scientific study from a national research institute— and not in everyday use, where most would speak of a high fever or high temperature.
    – choster
    Jan 5, 2015 at 20:17
  • I agree that a high fever is also a common term, I'm not suggesting it's wrong, though I've always used high-grade and low-grade fever and I'm not a healthcare worker or medical researcher.
    – John D
    Jan 5, 2015 at 20:30

Outside of clinical settings, I think it's unusual to distinguish grades of fever. So it would be most correct to speak either of a fever or a high temperature in casual use. But temperature is a long word, so I suspect that people got into the habit of replacing it with fever. But the high modifier still sticks around in their mind, resulting in the redundant high fever.

This type of transformation results in many redundant phrases. It's very common when one of the words is an acronym or initialism, as in PIN number and ATM machine.

  • 1
    Fever is an elevated body temperature. Since there are degrees of elevation (would you rather fall from a two story window or a 20 story window?), high fever is not a redundancy. Jan 5, 2015 at 23:21
  • But do lay people who say high fever actually mean a higher degree? Is there such a thing as a normal fever, to which high fever would be compared?
    – Barmar
    Jan 6, 2015 at 0:47
  • If they say high fever when it's just 100, it sounds like they use it for any fever?
    – Barmar
    Jan 6, 2015 at 2:59
  • The issue is whether they use it to mean something different from just a fever in general.
    – Barmar
    Jan 6, 2015 at 3:08
  • All you did was say that people use the phrase high fever, which I never denied. You didn't say how it differs from high temperature. BTW, I also remember my mother saying that I had a temperature, meaning that I had a fever. We obviously don't use these words with their literal meanings.
    – Barmar
    Jan 6, 2015 at 3:12

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