lis·​te·​ria | \ li-ˈstir-ē-ə How to pronounce listeria (audio) \
plural listeria

Definition of 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 Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration announced that cheeses produced by a Kansas City, Missouri, company were recalled in nine states because of a possible listeria contamination. CBS News, 30 June 2022 Symptoms of severe illness usually start within two weeks after eating food contaminated with listeria, but could also start as early as the same day or as late as 70 days after. ABC News, 1 July 2022 Symptoms usually start within two weeks after someone eats food contaminated with listeria. Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News, 1 July 2022 Symptoms, which include fever, fatigue, and muscle aches, typically start within one to four weeks of eating food contaminated with listeria. Paul Best, Fox News, 30 June 2022 Eight different kinds of cheeses are being recalled following reports they could be contaminated with listeria. Maggie O'neill, SELF, 6 June 2022 People reported symptoms of listeria infections between January 2021 through last month that the agency said was connected to ice cream sold by Big Olaf Creamery. Alyssa Lukpat, WSJ, 5 July 2022 The onions potentially contaminated with listeria were sold in several states, including Georgia. Hunter Boyce, ajc, 1 July 2022 There are about 1,600 listeria cases reported annually in the U.S., the CDC said. CBS News, 30 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'listeria.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of listeria

1952, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for listeria

New Latin, from Listeria, from Joseph Lister

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Time Traveler for listeria

Time Traveler

The first known use of listeria was in 1952

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Dictionary Entries Near listeria

lister cultivator



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Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Listeria.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for listeria


lis·​te·​ria | \ lis-ˈtir-ē-ə How to pronounce listeria (audio) \

Medical Definition of listeria

1 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
2 : any bacterium of the genus Listeria

called also listerella

Other Words from listeria

listerial \ lis-​ˈtir-​ē-​əl How to pronounce listeria (audio) \ adjective
listeric \ -​ik How to pronounce listeria (audio) \ adjective


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