id·​i·​o·​path·​ic ˌi-dē-ə-ˈpa-thik How to pronounce idiopathic (audio)
: arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause : primary
idiopathic epilepsy
: peculiar to the individual
idiopathically adverb

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Idiopathic joins the combining form idio- (from Greek idios, meaning "one's own" or "private") with -pathic, a form that suggests the effects of disease. The combining form idio- is typically found in technical terms. Examples include idiographic, meaning "relating to or dealing with something concrete, individual, or unique"; idiolect, meaning "the language or speech pattern of one individual at a particular period of life"; and idiotype, meaning "the molecular structure and conformation of an antibody that confers its antigenic specificity." A more common idio- word is idiosyncrasy, which most commonly refers to an unusual way in which a person behaves or thinks, or to an unusual part or feature of something.

Examples of idiopathic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which is treated with Ofev (nintedanib). Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 19 Sep. 2023 The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) recently published new practice guidelines for how to treat chronic idiopathic constipation in adults. Sherri Gordon, Health, 14 June 2023 What This Means For You The ACG and AGA now recommend magnesium oxide and senna as treatment options for chronic idiopathic constipation. Alyssa Hui, Verywell Health, 2 June 2023 Otherwise healthy children who have a curve in their spine pronounced enough to require corrective surgery are diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis. cleveland, 13 June 2022 Other autistic vulnerabilities have genetic or idiopathic causes. John Elder Robison, STAT, 23 Mar. 2023 In a small phase 3 study including 312 patients with chronic idiopathic constipation, researchers found that Vibrant led to one additional bowel movement in about 40% of patients who took the vibrating pill, compared to 23% of people who were in the control arm. Korin Miller, Health, 10 Feb. 2023 This can happen due to diabetes or other medical conditions or for no reason at all (idiopathic). Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 21 Sep. 2022 Her first memoir, The Two Kinds of Decay (2008), distills a decade of intense treatments for chronic idiopathic demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy, a rare autoimmune disorder, into brief, forthright chapters that intimately illuminate the toll of chronic illness. Nicole Rudick, The New York Review of Books, 6 Apr. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'idiopathic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1669, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of idiopathic was in 1669


Dictionary Entries Near idiopathic

Cite this Entry

“Idiopathic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Medical Definition


id·​io·​path·​ic ˌid-ē-ə-ˈpath-ik How to pronounce idiopathic (audio)
: arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause : primary
idiopathic epilepsy
idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
idiopathically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on idiopathic

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