dis·​ease | \ di-ˈzēz How to pronounce disease (audio) \

Definition of disease

1 : a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms : sickness, malady infectious diseases a rare genetic disease heart disease
2 : a harmful development (as in a social institution) sees the city's crime as a disease
3 obsolete : trouble

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Other Words from disease

diseased \ di-​ˈzēzd How to pronounce diseased (audio) \ adjective

Examples of disease in a Sentence

He suffers from a rare genetic disease. a disease of the mind Thousands die of heart disease each year. They are working to stop the spread of disease in rural areas. The article cites intolerance as one of the most dangerous of society's diseases. He sees crime as a disease that too often plagues the poor and disadvantaged.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Another letter, from Genevieve Fleischman of Fort Myers, said recurring stem cell treatments have resulted in improvements for a friend with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Ron Hurtibise, sun-sentinel.com, "Save our stem cells, patients ask judge in FDA case," 9 July 2019 Around the bay • Mike Krukow depends on his service dog: The Giants announcer suffers from a muscle disease that weakens his legs. Taylor Kate Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: Silicon Valley tiptoes into abortion debate," 8 July 2019 That is why his ownership is a disease on this football club; having him around is toxic and damaging. SI.com, "Why Newcastle United Have No Hope of Premier League Survival Next Season," 8 July 2019 Ionis’ most successful drug, Spinraza, halts a wasting disease called spinal muscular atrophy. Brittany Meiling, San Diego Union-Tribune, "4 San Diego companies that grew billions (and billions) while you weren’t looking," 8 July 2019 Anyone who’s ever caught a cold on an airplane can imagine how tough such a disease would be to contain in a closed cabin. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "The Airplanes That Rescue Ebola Patients," 5 July 2019 The virtual autopsy indicated that the boy king suffered from a genetic bone-wasting disease and a club foot, making him unable to walk unaided. Fox News, "King Tut bust that Egypt claims was 'stolen' sells for $6 million," 5 July 2019 When his father died of a terminal kidney disease in 1894, then-26-year-old Nicholas succeeded him as emperor of Russia and quickly married his love, Alexandra of Hesse, a German princess and granddaughter of the United Kingdom's Queen Victoria. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "The Romanov Family: The True Story Behind Netflix’s New Miniseries, 'The Last Czars'," 3 July 2019 Public health authorities such as the Northern Kentucky Health Department consider chickenpox, which spreads quickly, a disease to be controlled. Anne Saker, Cincinnati.com, "Vaccines: Kentucky students lose appeal of ban during chickenpox outbreak," 1 July 2019

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for disease

Middle English disese, from Anglo-French desease, desaise, from des- dis- + eise ease

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Statistics for disease

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for disease

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

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More Definitions for disease



English Language Learners Definition of disease

: an illness that affects a person, animal, or plant : a condition that prevents the body or mind from working normally
: a problem that a person, group, organization, or society has and cannot stop


dis·​ease | \ di-ˈzēz How to pronounce disease (audio) \

Kids Definition of disease

: a change in a living body (as of a person or plant) that prevents it from functioning normally : sickness


dis·​ease | \ diz-ˈēz How to pronounce disease (audio) \

Medical Definition of disease

: an impairment of the normal state of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts that interrupts or modifies the performance of the vital functions, is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms, and is a response to environmental factors (as malnutrition, industrial hazards, or climate), to specific infective agents (as worms, bacteria, or viruses), to inherent defects of the organism (as genetic anomalies), or to combinations of these factors : sickness, illness

called also morbus

— compare health sense 1

Other Words from disease

diseased \ -​ˈēzd How to pronounce diseased (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on disease

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for disease

Spanish Central: Translation of disease

Nglish: Translation of disease for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of disease for Arabic Speakers

Comments on disease

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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