lis·​te·​ria li-ˈstir-ē-ə How to pronounce listeria (audio)
plural listeria
: any of a genus (Listeria) of small, gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria that do not form spores and have a tendency to grow in chains and that include one (Listeria monocytogenes) that causes listeriosis
A common germ found in many foods from raw vegetables to hot dogs, listeria can cause a sometimes fatal disease called listeriosis when present in large quantities.Amy Barrett
also : a disease or sickness caused by infection with this bacterium : listeriosis
Listeria symptoms include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Sierra Brown

Examples of listeria in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Frozen fruit recall:Products sold at Aldi, Target and Trader possible for listeria More:Detroit ranks as No. 1 city for its burger passion AlTayeb in Garden City is at 873 Inkster Road and is open 8-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., and 8 a.m.-4 Sun. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, 25 June 2023 Trending News Peaches, plums, nectarines recalled due to deadly listeria outbreak When could mortgage rates fall in 2024? Elizabeth Napolitano, CBS News, 20 Nov. 2023 Three people were dead and two others have survived after suffering severe infections from listeria in Washington state, health officials said in a report posted Friday. Dennis Romero, NBC News, 23 July 2023 Thousands of pounds of Don Miguel frozen burritos have been recalled for possible listeria contamination. Nicholas Rice, Peoplemag, 22 Oct. 2023 Two cases of listeria have been reported, one in Pennsylvania and one in New York, according to the CDC. Kate Perez, USA TODAY, 11 Aug. 2023 Eating foods contaminated with listeria can lead to fever and flu-like symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hojun Choi, Dallas News, 23 June 2023 Listeria symptoms People who eat food contaminated with listeria can develop listeriosis. Francisco Guzman, USA TODAY, 21 Aug. 2023 Three people are dead and three others were hospitalized after drinking milkshakes sold at a Washington restaurant that were contaminated with listeria bacteria, health officials said. Francisco Guzman, USA TODAY, 21 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


New Latin, from Listeria, from Joseph Lister

First Known Use

1952, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of listeria was in 1952

Dictionary Entries Near listeria

Cite this Entry

“Listeria.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition


lis·​te·​ria lis-ˈtir-ē-ə How to pronounce listeria (audio)
capitalized : a genus of small gram-positive flagellated rod-shaped bacteria that do not form spores, are aerobic or facultatively anaerobic, and have a tendency to grow in chains and that include one (L. monocytogenes) causing listeriosis
: any bacterium of the genus Listeria

called also listerella

listerial adjective
listeric adjective
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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