Definition of elephantiasis
elephantiasesplay \ˌe-lə-fən-ˈtī-ə-ˌsēz, -ˌfan-\
1 : enlargement and thickening of tissues (as from chronic lymphedema); specifically : the enormous enlargement of a limb or the scrotum caused by obstruction of lymphatic vessels by filarial worms (especially Wuchereria bancrofti)
2 : an undesirable usually enormous growth, enlargement, or overdevelopment elephantiasis of the imagination
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Recent Examples of elephantiasis from the Web
In 2015, the Ugandan health ministry was told that an outbreak of elephantiasis was emerging in Kamwenge, in western Uganda.
In most affected countries, elephantiasis is caused by worms spread to humans by mosquito bites.
A tropical mosquito that carries parasites responsible for such diseases as elephantiasis has become strongly resistant in many parts of the world.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elephantiasis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
In Latin elephantiasis referred to a kind of leprosy in which the skin takes on the appearance of an elephant's hide. The word is still used in the medical field for various infectious skin diseases in which the affected part becomes grossly enlarged. The first known figurative use of "elephantiasis" is by English author George Meredith in a letter dated December 22, 1866. In that letter, he ribs an acquaintance for his exaggerated description of the size of a mackerel, telling him that he has "become the victim of a kind of mental elephantiasis."
Origin and Etymology of elephantiasis
New Latin, from Latin, a kind of leprosy, from Greek, from elephant-, elephas
First Known Use: 1562See Words from the same year
Medical Definition of elephantiasis
: enlargement and thickening of tissues (as from chronic lymphedema); specifically : the enormous enlargement of a limb or the scrotum caused by obstruction of lymphatics by filarial worms of the genus Wuchereria (W. bancrofti) or a related genus (Brugia malayi)
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