anthrax

noun
an·​thrax | \ ˈan-ˌthraks How to pronounce anthrax (audio) \

Definition of anthrax

: an infectious disease of warm-blooded animals (such as cattle and sheep) caused by a spore-forming bacterium (Bacillus anthracis), transmissible to humans especially by the handling of infected products (such as wool), and characterized by cutaneous ulcerating nodules or by often fatal lesions in the lungs also : the bacterium causing anthrax

Examples of anthrax in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web On September 18th, letters containing anthrax had been mailed to media outlets and congressional offices. James Carroll, The New Yorker, "Lessons to Be Learned from the Afghanistan Papers," 12 Dec. 2019 In 2001, the nation’s anthrax scare hit the White House with the discovery of a small concentration of spores at an offsite mail processing center. BostonGlobe.com, "In 1707, the first Parliament of Great Britain, created by the Acts of Union between England and Scotland, held its first meeting.," 23 Oct. 2019 Their stomachs are highly acidic, allowing them to safely digest sick animals as well as healthy ones, reducing the chance that diseases like anthrax, tuberculosis, and rabies will spread to other wildlife or humans. Charlie Hamilton James, National Geographic, "‘This is a full-blown crisis’: Fighting vulture poisoning in Kenya," 22 Nov. 2019 It was reported the soldier was exposed to or vaccinated for anthrax, a serious bacterial disease, and became immune before defection. Fox News, "North Korean soldier defects to South Korea, makes late-night dash across DMZ: officials," 1 Aug. 2019 In 2001, officials announced that anthrax had been discovered in a House postal facility on Capitol Hill. BostonGlobe.com, "In 1803, the US Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase.," 20 Oct. 2019 Still, Trump did not explicitly tie that threat to al-Qaida and thought an attack might come through a miniaturized weapon of mass destruction, like a nuclear device in a suitcase or anthrax. Hope Yen, chicagotribune.com, "Did Trump predict 9/11? Had ‘nobody ever heard of Osama bin Laden’ before the World Trade Center? No.," 29 Oct. 2019 The order will suspend research into organisms that cause Ebola, smallpox, anthrax and plague, and poison ricin, the New York Times reported. Fox News, "Military lab, which handles Ebola and other dangerous pathogens, suspended after failing CDC inspection," 7 Aug. 2019 The paper also said North Korea is capable of cultivating lethal biological agents such as anthrax and smallpox that could be turned into weapons. Jonathan Cheng, WSJ, "Step One in Disarming North Korea: Knowing What’s in Kim’s Arsenal," 8 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'anthrax.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of anthrax

1861, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for anthrax

probably borrowed from French, originally a word applied to the dark skin lesion associated with the cutaneous form of the disease, extended in the 18th century to the disease itself (also called charbon); earlier, "dark skin lesion, carbuncle," going back to Middle French antrac, borrowed from Late Latin anthrac-, anthrax, borrowed from Greek anthrak-, ánthrax "charcoal (burning or unlit, usually in plural), coal, dark red precious stone, dark skin lesion," probably of pre-Greek substratal origin

Note: In the sense "carbuncle, purulent skin lesion (of various origins)," anthrax has been in occasional use in English since Middle English (then attested as antrax, antrace). Regarding the origin of the Greek word, cf. andráchlē "warming pan, brazier," (with -d- for -th-) and kándaros glossed ánthrax by Hesychius (k- alternating with ø), features (along with the suffix -ak-) suggesting substratal origin (see Robert Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2010).

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about anthrax

Time Traveler for anthrax

Time Traveler

The first known use of anthrax was in 1861

See more words from the same year

Statistics for anthrax

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Anthrax.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anthrax. Accessed 19 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for anthrax

anthrax

noun
How to pronounce anthrax (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of anthrax

: a serious disease that affects animals (such as cattle and sheep) and sometimes people

anthrax

noun
an·​thrax | \ ˈan-ˌthraks How to pronounce anthrax (audio) \

Kids Definition of anthrax

: a serious bacterial disease of warm-blooded animals (as sheep) that can affect humans

anthrax

noun
an·​thrax | \ ˈan-ˌthraks How to pronounce anthrax (audio) \
plural anthraces\ -​thrə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce anthraces (audio) \

Medical Definition of anthrax

: an infectious disease of warm-blooded animals (as cattle and sheep) caused by a spore-forming bacterium (Bacillus anthracis), transmissible to humans especially by the handling of infected products (as hair), and characterized by cutaneous ulcerating nodules or by often fatal lesions in the lungs also : the bacterium causing anthrax

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on anthrax

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with anthrax

Britannica English: Translation of anthrax for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about anthrax

Comments on anthrax

What made you want to look up anthrax? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to insert between existing elements

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!