con·​ta·​gion | \kən-ˈtā-jən \

Definition of contagion 

1a : a contagious disease

b : the transmission of a disease by direct or indirect contact

c : a disease-producing agent (such as a virus)

2a : poison

b : contagious influence, quality, or nature

c : corrupting influence or contact

3a : rapid communication of an influence (such as a doctrine or emotional state)

b : an influence that spreads rapidly

Examples of contagion in a Sentence

a disease that spreads by contagion People have been warned to keep out of the area to avoid contagion.

Recent Examples on the Web

Any stumbles in tech-stock prices could raise the risk of market contagion and wreak havoc on portfolios. Michael Wursthorn, WSJ, "Investors Double Down on Tech in Rocky Quarter for Stocks," 29 June 2018 What if any is the long-term risk of contagion for working at such a divisive enterprise? Mark Leibovich, New York Times, "The Risky Business of Speaking for President Trump," 23 May 2018 For France and Germany, the heat is on to drive away the risk of populistic contagion across Europe. Nacha Cattan And Justin Villamil, Houston Chronicle, "Expect Lopez Obrador, foe of Mexico's energy reforms, to win presidency," 15 May 2018 Both the negative impact of conflict as well as the potential contagion of the conflict reach well beyond the initial region. Håvard Hegre, Washington Post, "U.N. peacekeeping really can be effective. Here’s how we tabulated this.," 28 June 2018 On the other hand, the OMT program would likely be available—and possibly with few conditions—for any other eurozone member that needed support, providing some degree of protection from any Italian crisis contagion. Simon Nixon, WSJ, "Italy Still Has Time to Avert a Disaster," 30 May 2018 Now Like a contagion, senescent cells seem to pass on their accelerated aging abilities to healthy cells by releasing a number of factors, including inflammation-producing cytokines that can cause tissues like muscle to deteriorate. Alice Park, Time, "How Scientists Are Testing Cancer Drugs to Slow Down Aging," 9 July 2018 Even when the two negotiations took place seven days apart, the contagion effect was just as strong. William Wan,, "We often fight rudeness with rudeness. And it can be contagious, research shows," 27 June 2018 The most important responsibility lies in avoiding contagion. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "How not to screw up media coverage of suicides.," 8 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of contagion

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for contagion

Middle English, from Latin contagion-, contagio, from contingere to have contact with, pollute — more at contingent

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Statistics for contagion

Last Updated

22 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for contagion

The first known use of contagion was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for contagion



English Language Learners Definition of contagion

: the process by which a disease is passed from one person or animal to another by touching

: a disease that can be passed from one person or animal to another by touching : a contagious disease


con·​ta·​gion | \kən-ˈtā-jən \

Kids Definition of contagion

1 : the passing of a disease from one individual to another as a result of some contact between them

2 : a contagious disease


con·​ta·​gion | \kən-ˈtā-jən \

Medical Definition of contagion 

1 : the transmission of a disease by direct or indirect contact

3 : a disease-producing agent (as a virus)

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Comments on contagion

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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