lep·​ro·​sy | \ ˈle-prə-sē How to pronounce leprosy (audio) \

Definition of leprosy

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

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Other Words from leprosy

leprotic \ le-​ˈprä-​tik How to pronounce leprotic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of leprosy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The other nine were on to the next thing in life, a life without leprosy and too busy thinking about the future to be grateful for the past. Terry Pluto, cleveland, "Faith & You: I know I should be grateful, but . . .," 8 Nov. 2019 Tuberculosis remains a part of the screening, along with communicable diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea and leprosy. Sophie Chou, ProPublica, "Despite Audit, Doctors With Checkered Records Can Still Decide Fate of Green Card Seekers," 12 Dec. 2019 Campaigning against landmines, leprosy, HIV/AIDS — these causes were very complicated. Simon Perry, PEOPLE.com, "Charles Spencer Says of His Sister Princess Diana's Namesake Charity: 'Her Message Continues'," 26 Nov. 2019 The most significant threat’ More than 150 years ago, leprosy arrived in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Adam Aton, Scientific American, "As Trump Administration Downplays Warming, Agencies Chronicle Climate Impacts," 9 Oct. 2019 People who lack that ability—for example, people who have [a common complication of] diabetes or people who have leprosy [Hansen’s disease]—they don’t have sensation in their extremities. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "What Chili Peppers Can Teach Us about Pain," 5 Sep. 2019 The British built it in 1895 as Rietfontein Hospital to house victims of contagious diseases like leprosy, smallpox and syphilis. New York Times, "Scientists Discover New Cure for the Deadliest Strain of Tuberculosis," 14 Aug. 2019 At first, the fair-skinned, taboo-talking Hileman was met by confused stares at the residential school, which cares for children whose parents have leprosy. Vincent T. Davis, ExpressNews.com, "San Antonio Girl Scout teaches female empowerment to girls in rural India," 24 June 2019 At the age of 23, this African-American chemist developed the most effective treatment of leprosy during the early 20th century. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "32 Women Who’ve Changed Life As We Know It," 31 Mar. 2019

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for leprosy

Middle English lepruse, from leprous

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Time Traveler for leprosy

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for leprosy

Last Updated

2 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Leprosy.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leprosy. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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How to pronounce leprosy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of leprosy

medical : a serious disease that causes painful rough areas on the skin and that badly damages nerves and flesh


lep·​ro·​sy | \ ˈlep-rə-sē How to pronounce leprosy (audio) \
plural leprosies

Medical Definition of leprosy

: 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, February 1998 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, 16 July 2005 Leprosy is actually the least infectious of the major communicable diseases.— Sandra Dallas, Business Week, 1 Mar. 1999 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, 22 Dec. 1986

called also hansenosis, Hansen's disease, lepra

— see lepromatous leprosy, tuberculoid leprosy

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More from Merriam-Webster on leprosy

Spanish Central: Translation of leprosy

Nglish: Translation of leprosy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of leprosy for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about leprosy

Comments on leprosy

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


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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