contagious

adjective
con·​ta·​gious | \ kən-ˈtā-jəs How to pronounce contagious (audio) \

Definition of contagious

1 : transmissible by direct or indirect contact with an infected person contagious diseases
2 : bearing contagion contagious people
3 : used for contagious diseases a contagious ward
4 : exciting similar emotions or conduct in others contagious enthusiasm contagious laughter

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Other Words from contagious

contagiously adverb
contagiousness noun

What is the Difference Between contagious and infectious?

The words contagious and infectious can be confusing because they do not designate wholly distinct categories; something is not either contagious or infectious.

Essentially, infectious diseases and contagious diseases are caused by disease-producing agents such as bacteria and viruses, but they differ in that contagious diseases can be spread to other people by direct or indirect contact.

Anything contagious, such as the flu, is always automatically infectious: if you can catch it from someone, it's being passed to you via an infectious agent, which is the thing that gets you sick—usually a virus or a bacteria.

The reverse, however, isn't true. Just because something is infectious does not mean it's contagious. Food poisoning, for example, is infectious but not contagious: food can be contaminated with a bacteria (an infectious agent) that makes you sick, but you can't give your food poisoning to someone else by shaking their hand or even giving them a kiss.

Both contagious and infectious are also used figuratively, often in much happier contexts: laughter can be contagious; someone's enthusiasm can be infectious. While both words are used figuratively of both pleasant and unpleasant things, contagious is more often chosen for the unpleasant, as when it's grumpiness or fear that seems to be spreading.

Examples of contagious in a Sentence

It's a highly contagious virus. I have a cold and I'm still contagious. I'm sick, but the doctor says I'm not contagious.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But don’t panic: Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious. Maggie O'neill, Health.com, "Is Legionnaires’ Disease Contagious? Here’s What to Know About the Outbreak in Atlanta," 16 July 2019 The illness, which is not contagious, is caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves, the health department said. Jess Nocera, baltimoresun.com, "Case of botulism identified in Howard County," 7 June 2019 Akuete got plenty of exposure to the world of shea butter production while spending her summer breaks with her mother in Ghana, but Eugenia’s passion for shea butter wasn’t contagious—at least not at first. Baze Mpinja, Vogue, "This Ghanaian-American Entrepreneur Started a Shea Butter Business Inspired by Her Mom," 10 May 2019 Experts fear that glorification of the recent deaths will cause a contagious effect among already emotionally strained protesters. Alice Su, latimes.com, "Activists fear shattered glass may obscure demands of Hong Kong protest movement," 3 July 2019 But there was no error, and bit by bit, the three Czech fans had a contagious effect on those around them. New York Times, "Moments Large and Small in a Memorable Olympics," 25 Feb. 2018 Killing the virus earlier, however, does mitigate the flu’s contagious effects. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "This tablet promises to kill the flu in a day, and it was just approved in Japan | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 24 Feb. 2018 Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or if someone comes into direct contact or shares germs by touching the same objects or surfaces. Cheri Mossburg And Hollie Silverman, CNN, "A UCLA employee infected with measles ate at a campus food court while contagious," 10 July 2019 Hepatitis A is a contagious disease that causes inflammation of the liver. Claire Rafford, azcentral, "First death in Maricopa County recorded from Hepatitis A outbreak," 9 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contagious.' 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 contagious

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for contagious

see contagion

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Learn More about contagious

Statistics for contagious

Last Updated

12 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contagious

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

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More Definitions for contagious

contagious

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of contagious

: able to be passed from one person or animal to another by touching
: having a sickness that can be passed to someone else by touching
: capable of being easily spread to others : causing other people to feel or act a similar way

contagious

adjective
con·​ta·​gious | \ kən-ˈtā-jəs How to pronounce contagious (audio) \

Kids Definition of contagious

1 : able to be passed from one individual to another through contact a contagious disease
2 : having a sickness that can be passed to someone else
3 : causing other people to feel or act a similar way a contagious laugh

contagious

adjective
con·​ta·​gious | \ -jəs How to pronounce contagious (audio) \

Medical Definition of contagious

1 : communicable by contact tuberculosis in the contagious stage
2 : bearing contagion many persons…are contagious long before they are aware of the presence of their diseaseJournal of the American Medical Association
3 : used for contagious diseases a contagious ward

Other Words from contagious

contagiously adverb
contagiousness noun

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Comments on contagious

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