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 Norquist and Traci Lenz said their families are suffering from respiratory and neurological illnesses. Jan Crawford, CBS News, "Families allege unsafe conditions at privatized military housing in Florida," 3 Dec. 2019 That’s a point that the pro-tax campaign seized on Monday, citing recent deaths from illnesses linked to vaping, and the popularity of e-cigarettes with teens. The Oregonian/oregonlive Politics Team, oregonlive, "Oregon hospitals give big to support cigarette tax measure," 26 Nov. 2019 Arkansas interim head coach Barry Lunney Jr. was vague when asked whether any members of the Razorbacks' football team had been diagnosed with the illness. Tom Murphy, Arkansas Online, "Razorbacks to make vaccine available to athletes, staff after mumps cases on campus," 25 Nov. 2019 Four children have died so far this season from flu-like illnesses, the CDC reports. Sara G. Miller, NBC News, "Flu season is picking up, particularly in the South and the West, CDC says," 22 Nov. 2019 In Dark Waters, the illnesses are more commonplace (mostly cancers and birth defects), but the mundanity becomes similarly frightening. David Sims, The Atlantic, "A Chilling True Story of Corporate Indifference," 22 Nov. 2019 Proceeds benefit Indiana Children’s Wish Fund, which grants wishes to kids, ages 3-18, who suffer from life-threatening illnesses. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "The holiday food events in Indianapolis you don't want to miss this Christmas," 21 Nov. 2019 Epidemiological data from the pre-vaccine era linked the measles virus to up to 50% of all childhood deaths from infectious illnesses in that time period. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Here’s how measles wipes out the immune system’s memory," 6 Nov. 2019 The illness can then progress to disorientation, seizures and coma. Leada Gore |, al, "Mosquito-borne virus kills 1 in Alabama: What to know about EEE," 28 Oct. 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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Time Traveler for illness

Time Traveler

The first known use of illness was circa 1500

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Statistics for illness

Last Updated

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Illness.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 14 December 2019.

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More Definitions for illness


How to pronounce illness (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for illness

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with illness

Spanish Central: Translation of illness

Nglish: Translation of illness for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of illness for Arabic Speakers

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