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

Other Words from leprosy

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

Examples of leprosy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web These days, leprosy is curable but continues to affect tens of thousands each year. Kathleen M. Wong, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Mar. 2022 Ranadive also studied the bacterium that causes leprosy and helped develop a vaccine. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, 8 Nov. 2021 New leprosy patients keep walking through Dr. Reddy’s doors. New York Times, 25 Jan. 2022 Her warm touch, with everyone from leprosy patients to those diagnosed with AIDS at the start of the epidemic, was clear to eyewitnesses like Hussein. Simon Perry, PEOPLE.com, 19 Jan. 2022 There were other horrors, including the constant threat of leprosy. Longreads, 19 Jan. 2022 There are few islands in the world like Oshima, Japan's only island leprosarium -- an island inhabited almost entirely by victims of leprosy. David Mcelhenney, CNN, 27 Dec. 2021 Sharing of medical knowledge and supplies around the globe has meant that diseases which used to be deadly, such as leprosy, smallpox, and polio, are now either eradicated or easily treatable. Dominic Pino, National Review, 20 Oct. 2021 As for treatment for leprosy in wild chimpanzees, that could prove challenging. Hannah Ryan, CNN, 14 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

14 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Leprosy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leprosy. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for leprosy


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 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

Nglish: Translation of leprosy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of leprosy for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about leprosy


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