dis·​ease | \di-ˈzēz \

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 \ -​ˈzēzd \ 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

Seeking to showcase its leadership in the field of AI, the company recently demonstrated how these techniques can be used to detect a patient’s risk for various cardiovascular diseases using only an image of his or her eye. Douglas Macmillan, WSJ, "Google Picks Geisinger CEO to Oversee Health-Care Initiatives," 8 Nov. 2018 Parasites, pathogen, germs, those were a reliable source of disease and death in our ancestry. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "These 3D X-rays are spectacular and really gross," 14 Aug. 2018 Care providers can be accidentally stuck with needles, necessitating stressful testing for diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, "A Robot May One Day Draw Your Blood," 13 July 2018 The department regularly monitors traps in the area and checks mosquitos for diseases like West Nile and Zika. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "West Nile detected in North Avondale, but don't panic, it's normal," 11 July 2018 The kind of disease exacerbated by climate change is not new to the reefs. Evan Halper, latimes.com, "Racing to save Florida’s coral from climate change, scientists turn to a once-unthinkable strategy: ‘assisted evolution’," 9 July 2018 The prohibitions are due to the finding of chronic wasting disease at Wild Rivers Whitetails, a deer breeding farm in Goodman. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Baiting and feeding bans initiated due to CWD-positive deer farm in Marinette County," 6 July 2018 Investing in treatments for diseases that last a lifetime, like diabetes or hypertension, was better business than a drug the patient takes once. Ari Altstedter, Bloomberg.com, "The Startups Waging War Against Superbugs," 25 June 2018 Karow helped the company develop and expand its Health Nucleus, a testing center that provides customers very detailed readouts of their present health, potential for diseases later on, and strategies to preserve health. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Human Longevity names interim CEO," 13 July 2018

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

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for disease

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

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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 \

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 \

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 \ 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).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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