anthrax

noun

an·​thrax ˈan-ˌthraks How to pronounce anthrax (audio)
: 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 Their stomachs are even capable of destroying anthrax. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 24 Feb. 2024 From anthrax to Zika virus, California mandates reporting of nearly 90 infectious diseases and other conditions, but that list leaves out quite a bit. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Feb. 2024 As for his stories about law enforcement and his daughter being taken to the hospital after she was exposed to what turned out to be fake anthrax powder mailed to his apartment, Minhaj apologized for blurring the lines between fact and fiction. EW.com, 26 Oct. 2023 Injection anthrax, where a needle introduces the anthrax spores into the body, has symptoms similar to cutaneous anthrax but may include an infection deep under the skin or in the muscle where the drug was injected, the CDC says. Robert Hart, Forbes, 11 Dec. 2023 In Russia in 2016, anthrax reactivated by permafrost thaw led to the death of a 12-year-old boy. Alec Luhn, Scientific American, 19 Dec. 2023 At the time, experts ruled out some common causes of elephant deaths, including poaching and anthrax. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 Nov. 2023 Once inside the body, anthrax microbes multiply, produce potent toxins and trigger illness, with the kind of illness depending on how anthrax got into the body. Robert Hart, Forbes, 11 Dec. 2023 In the past, elephants have died in Zimbabwe from drought, starvation or anthrax during hot and dry seasons, as well as from cyanide poisoning. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'anthrax.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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).

First Known Use

1776, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of anthrax was in 1776

Dictionary Entries Near anthrax

Cite this Entry

“Anthrax.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anthrax. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

anthrax

noun
an·​thrax ˈan-ˌthraks How to pronounce anthrax (audio)
: an infectious and usually fatal disease of warm-blooded animals (as cattle and sheep) caused by a bacterium and transmissible to humans
also : a bacterium causing anthrax

Medical Definition

anthrax

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

More from Merriam-Webster on anthrax

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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