Definition of miasma
2 : an influence or atmosphere that tends to deplete or corrupt freed from the miasma of poverty — Sir Arthur Bryant the enervating miasma of fear — The Times Literary Supplement (London); also : an atmosphere that obscures : fog
miasmalplay \-məl\ adjective
miasmaticplay \ˌmī-əz-ˈma-tik\ adjective
miasmicplay \mī-ˈaz-mik, mē-\ adjective
miasmicallyplay \-mi-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
miasma was our Word of the Day on 10/15/2015. Hear the podcast!
Recent Examples of miasma from the Web
Eliza has disappeared into the rust and sweat miasma of an Unhallowed Metropolis party, leaving her Erratic Thoughts post for this week undone, the brazen hussy.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'miasma'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
In notes taken during a voyage to South America on HMS Beagle in the 1830s, Charles Darwin described an illness that he believed was caused by "miasma" emanating from stagnant pools of water. For him, "miasma" had the same meaning that it did when it first appeared in English in the 1600s: an emanation of a vaporous disease-causing substance. ("Miasma," by the way, comes from Greek miainein, meaning "to pollute.") But while Darwin was at sea, broader applications of "miasma" were starting to spread. Nowadays, we know germs are the source of infection, so we're more likely to use the newer, more figurative sense of "miasma," which refers to something destructive or demoralizing that surrounds or permeates.
Origin and Etymology of miasma
New Latin, from Greek, defilement, from miainein to pollute
First Known Use: 1665See Words from the same year
MIASMA Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of miasma for English Language Learners
: a heavy cloud of something unpleasant or unhealthy
Medical Definition of miasma
: a vaporous exhalation (as of a marshy region or of putrescent matter) formerly believed to cause disease (as malaria)
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