ill·​ness | \ ˈil-nəs How to pronounce illness (audio) \

Definition of illness

b : an unhealthy condition of body or mind

2 obsolete

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Examples of illness in a Sentence

Her body was not able to defend itself against illness. Hundreds of soldiers died from illness and hunger. He showed no signs of illness. Scientists have not yet found a cure for this illness. cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses She died at the age of 60 after a brief illness.
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Recent Examples on the Web

People are advised not to swim or play in contaminated water to avoid illnesses such as diarrhea, gastrointestinal issues, vomiting, fever, chills or headaches, as well as infections to the eyes, ear, nose and throat. Leada Gore |,, "Panama City Beach access spot advisory remains due to fecal pollution," 17 July 2019 Hoffman learned about it not long after he was told of Ellen Totten’s illness. Jennifer Johnson,, "A church pastor donated part of his liver to a Park Ridge mother with cancer: ‘I just felt God present, truly’," 16 July 2019 Experts have said that Blanchard was the victim of Munchausen by proxy, a rare form of abuse in which a guardian — in this case Blanchard’s mother — exaggerates or induces illness in a child for attention and sympathy. Steve Helling,, "Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s Stepmom Says 'We Really Do Like' Her New Fiancé," 16 July 2019 But the death rates for the illness range from 5% to 30%. Maggie O'neill,, "Is Legionnaires’ Disease Contagious? Here’s What to Know About the Outbreak in Atlanta," 16 July 2019 Amazon Prime Day: Avoid these deals and items, experts say. 'Property Brothers' sibling JD Scott opens up about illness. Fox News, "Why Ocasio-Cortez's race card play on Pelosi may have backfired; Trump resets strategy in census battle," 12 July 2019 Chronic illness or not, being active gives me a chance to see how vast and vibrant this life can be. Joelle Zarcone, SELF, "My Cooley’s Anemia Helps Me View Workouts as a Gift, Not a Chore," 12 July 2019 China’s struggle to contain African swine fever, an illness fatal to hogs but not harmful to humans, is also forcing Cargill to adjust. Jacob Bunge, WSJ, "Cargill Profit Drops on Trade, Flooding Challenges," 11 July 2019 This includes direct health problems like postorgasmic illness syndrome, in which men are struck with headaches and fatigue following ejaculation. Matt Simon, WIRED, "The Strange Saga of the Butt Plug Turned Research Device," 11 July 2019

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

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

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Statistics for illness

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for illness

The first known use of illness was circa 1500

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More Definitions for illness



English Language Learners Definition of illness

: a condition of being unhealthy in your body or mind
: a specific condition that prevents your body or mind from working normally : a sickness or disease


ill·​ness | \ ˈil-nəs How to pronounce illness (audio) \

Kids Definition of illness

1 : an unhealthy condition of the body or mind Germs can cause illness.
2 : a specific sickness or disease Colds are a common illness.


ill·​ness | \ ˈil-nəs How to pronounce illness (audio) \

Medical Definition of illness

: an unhealthy condition of body or mind : sickness

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More from Merriam-Webster on illness

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with illness

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for illness

Spanish Central: Translation of illness

Nglish: Translation of illness for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of illness for Arabic Speakers

Comments on illness

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


something desired as essential

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