lep·​er ˈle-pər How to pronounce leper (audio)
: a person affected with leprosy
: a person shunned for moral or social reasons

Examples of leper in a Sentence

was treated as a leper after she leveled unpopular criticism of the beloved star
Recent Examples on the Web Presented to Hawaiian opera singer Tandy MacKenzie in 1922, it’s inscribed from the members of the Molokai leper colony, for whom the world-famous tenor had agreed to sing, in defiance of societal norms. Oren Hartov, Robb Report, 18 June 2024 Spinalonga Island's beauty is juxtaposed with its history as a leper colony. Chadner Navarro, Condé Nast Traveler, 21 Aug. 2023 An especially disturbing scene occurs when the women visit a leper colony several miles outside of Saigon and see the patients there, some with missing body parts. Diane Scharper, National Review, 21 Dec. 2023 Charlene next takes Tricia to a leper colony, run by nuns, accompanied by an army doctor and two other visitors. Joan Silber, The New York Review of Books, 16 Dec. 2021 Once a Wampanoag fishing ground, the island was the site of a natural history school headed by Louis Agassiz in the late 19th century, a leper colony in the early 20th, a juvenile rehabilitation center for troubled boys until 2011, and most recently, a residential drug rehabilitation center. Maliya Ellis, BostonGlobe.com, 2 July 2023 The backdrop to the story is India’s struggle for independence, and the supporting cast includes native and Western physicians, surgeons, estate owners, a leper colony, and an elephant. Denise Davidson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 May 2023 Metastatic bone cancer has been discovered in Egyptian tombs, in a Portuguese necropolis, in a prehistoric grave in the Tennessee River Valley and in a leper skeleton from a medieval cemetery in England. George Johnson, Discover Magazine, 30 July 2013 The actual purpose of a quarantine has always been, not to sequester diseased individuals indefinitely—as in the case of leper colonies and tuberculosis sanatoriums—but to detain persons whose exposure to a communicable disease was uncertain to evaluate their health. A. Roger Ekirch, WSJ, 16 July 2021

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

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from lepre leprosy, from Late Latin lepra, from Greek, from lepein to peel; perhaps akin to Lithuanian lopas piece, scrap

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of leper was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near leper

Cite this Entry

“Leper.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leper. Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


lep·​er ˈlep-ər How to pronounce leper (audio)
: a person who has leprosy

Medical Definition


lep·​er ˈlep-ər How to pronounce leper (audio)
: an individual affected with leprosy

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