con·​ta·​gion | \ kən-ˈtā-jən How to pronounce contagion (audio) \

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 So, Amazon desperately wants to avoid that type of contagion. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 5 Apr. 2022 Even though the coronavirus contagion in San Antonio is under control for now, the lab is working to run samples more frequently with the looming threat of omicron. Marina Starleaf Riker, San Antonio Express-News, 7 Dec. 2021 In some cases, the plagues that haunt this new crop of books are little more than scenery, a kind of wry nod to the low-grade fear many of us have that maybe this is just what the future will look like: one vicious contagion after another. Amy Brady, Scientific American, 1 Apr. 2022 Others have begun to question whether there will be contagion effects into other metals markets and if the LME has acted fairly when canceling trades. Will Daniel, Fortune, 17 Mar. 2022 Analysts at Capital Economics warned that if a financial institution is particularly exposed to Russian debt, that could spark broader contagion. Allison Morrow, CNN, 17 Mar. 2022 Poczatek started to think of this help as emotional PPE, the protective gear ubiquitous in the fight against COVID contagion. Alison Bowen,, 8 Mar. 2022 This new production, directed by Jerry Zaks, works hard to convince us that we, too, have been transported back to our Before Times, when nobody feared contagion, and crowds could flock to Broadway expecting to be pleased. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 14 Feb. 2022 Finally, note that emotional contagion isn’t always a good thing. David Benjamin And David Komlos, Forbes, 27 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of contagion

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

History and Etymology for contagion

Middle English contagioun, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French contagiun, borrowed from Latin contāgiōn, contāgiō "contact, contact resulting in disease, infection, pollution," from contag-, variant stem of contingere "to be in contact with, arrive at, affect, fall to one's lot" + -iōn-, -iō, suffix of action nouns formed from compound verbs — more at contingent entry 1

Note: The vowel length in contāgiō is unexpected and difficult to explain; a similarly lengthened vowel is found in other deverbal derivatives with -ag- as a second member (compāgēs "bond, joint," from pangere, ambāgēs "circuitous path," from agere; see agent, pact).

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

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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Contagion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for contagion


con·​ta·​gion | \ kən-ˈtā-jən How to pronounce contagion (audio) \

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 How to pronounce contagion (audio) \

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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