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 They were given masks and instructions to stay six feet away from each other at all times and to eat their meals in their rooms to reduce risk of contagion. Anchorage Daily News, "U.S. evacuees quarantined in California resort to Zumba, stairwell races, accounting classes to keep busy," 7 Feb. 2020 Fears of contagion have upended sales and operations for several American corporate giants ranging from Google and Tesla to McDonald's, Starbucks and Royal Caribbean. CBS News, "Coronavirus cases hit 20,000 as first death reported outside of China," 3 Feb. 2020 None of the returning Italians have shown any signs of contagion, Di Maio said. Washington Post, "Quarantines await Europeans flown home amid virus outbreak," 1 Feb. 2020 Countries that know they’ll be isolated won’t report cases of contagion, causing viruses to spread and making the problem worse. Kimberly Leonard, Washington Examiner, "'We must decide what needs to be done': World Health Organization plans Thursday decision on coronavirus emergency declaration," 29 Jan. 2020 What’s not known yet is the virus’s incubation period -- how long for symptoms to show after someone contracts the virus -- and the window of contagion -- how long the virus is contagious. Emily Bamforth, cleveland, "Should I be freaking out? What can you do to protect yourself from the China coronavirus," 28 Jan. 2020 Suicide contagion, the idea that exposure to death by suicide can increase suicidal behavior in others, is a real thing, and of course any possible link tied to the K-pop industry deserves to be investigated. Aamina Khan, Teen Vogue, "Why the "Dark Side of K-pop" Suicide Trope Is Harmful," 19 Dec. 2019 This was the late 1970s and early 1980s, and hooliganism was a contagion. Toby Harnden, Washington Examiner, "The game has changed, but soccer unites decades and the world," 9 Jan. 2020 More recently fears of contagion from Brexit, and the possibility that France would elect a populist president, Marine Le Pen, did the same. The Economist, "Why currency traders are serene even as Western politics gets messy," 21 Nov. 2019

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 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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Time Traveler for contagion

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for contagion

Last Updated

10 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contagion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for contagion


How to pronounce contagion (audio)

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 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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