leprosy

noun

lep·​ro·​sy ˈle-prə-sē How to pronounce leprosy (audio)
1
: a chronic infectious disease caused by a mycobacterium (Mycobacterium leprae) affecting especially the skin and peripheral nerves and characterized by the formation of nodules or macules that enlarge and spread accompanied by loss of sensation with eventual paralysis, wasting of muscle, and production of deformities

called also Hansen's disease

2
: a morally or spiritually harmful influence
leprotic adjective

Examples of leprosy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Winchester also had a health care center where people with leprosy were cared for. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 May 2024 Ground down by an autocratic and incompetent state, the Chinese had become sick not only morally but also physically: rampant diseases—among them plague, leprosy, tuberculosis, and smallpox—were sapping the people. Robert Peckham, Foreign Affairs, 27 Mar. 2020 Modern red squirrels have a strain of leprosy closely related to a medieval human strain. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 May 2024 Though treatable today, the limited leprosy treatments of the Middle Ages meant that the disease spread widely, despite being surprisingly difficult to transmit. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 3 May 2024 The genome of leprosy found in the medieval squirrel was more closely related to the medieval human strains than to strains found in modern red squirrels, suggesting leprosy was spreading between humans and squirrels at the time. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 May 2024 That’s what a study in Current Biology seems to suggest, anyway, after showing that red squirrels hosted strains of the leprosy bacteria Mycobacterium leprae in England’s Middle Ages. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 3 May 2024 Going down: Aged and suffering from flesh-eating leprosy and arthritis, Viserys succumbs in his bed as his second wife attends to him. Randee Dawn, Los Angeles Times, 20 June 2023 Monroe County hasn’t recorded a leprosy case in more than 10 years. Michelle Marchante, Miami Herald, 28 Mar. 2024

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English lepruse, from leprous

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of leprosy was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near leprosy

Cite this Entry

“Leprosy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leprosy. Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

leprosy

noun
lep·​ro·​sy ˈlep-rə-sē How to pronounce leprosy (audio)
: a disease caused by a bacterium and marked by slow-growing spreading swellings accompanied by loss of sensation, wasting away of muscles, and by deformities

called also Hansen's disease

Medical Definition

leprosy

noun
lep·​ro·​sy ˈlep-rə-sē How to pronounce leprosy (audio)
plural leprosies
: a chronic infectious disease that is caused by a mycobacterium (Mycobacterium leprae), affects especially the skin and peripheral nerves, and is characterized by the formation of nodules or macules that enlarge and spread and are accompanied by loss of sensation with eventual paralysis, wasting of muscle, and production of deformities
About 12 million people worldwide have leprosy, a disfiguring, chronic infection that damages nerves, skin, eyes, and mucous membranes.Harvard Health Letter
The good news is that leprosy is relatively easy to diagnose and cure. It is caused by the microbe Mycobacterium leprae, which produces telltale symptoms of enlarged nerves and light-coloured patches of numb skin on a patient's face or extremities.Bryn Nelson, New Scientist
Leprosy is actually the least infectious of the major communicable diseases.Sandra Dallas, Business Week
Leprosy … is progressive and causes the growth of widely distributed lumps on the skin and thickening of the skin and nerves. Severe cases are characterized by muscle weakness and paralysis.Insight

called also hansenosis, Hansen's disease, lepra

see lepromatous leprosy, tuberculoid leprosy

More from Merriam-Webster on leprosy

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