miasma

play
noun mi·as·ma \mī-ˈaz-mə, mē-\

Definition of miasma

plural

miasmas

also

miasmata

play play \-mə-tə\
  1. 1 :  a vaporous exhalation formerly believed to cause disease; also :  a heavy vaporous emanation or atmosphere <a miasma of tobacco smoke>

  2. 2 :  an influence or atmosphere that tends to deplete or corrupt <freed from the miasma of poverty — Sir Arthur Bryant>; also :  an atmosphere that obscures :  fog

miasmal

play \-məl\ adjective

miasmatic

play \ˌmī-əz-ˈma-tik\ adjective

miasmic

play \mī-ˈaz-mik, mē-\ adjective

miasmically

play \-mi-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

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: 1665


MIASMA Defined for English Language Learners

miasma

play
noun mi·as·ma \mī-ˈaz-mə, mē-\

Definition of miasma for English Language Learners

  • : a heavy cloud of something unpleasant or unhealthy


Medical Dictionary

miasma

play play
noun mi·as·ma \mī-ˈaz-mə, mē-\

Medical Definition of miasma

plural

miasmas

also

miasmata

\-mət-ə\play
  1. :  a vaporous exhalation (as of a marshy region or of putrescent matter) formerly believed to cause disease (as malaria)

miasmal

\-məl\play adjective

miasmatic

\ˌmī-əz-ˈmat-ik\play adjective

miasmic

\mī-ˈaz-mik, mē-\play play adjective


Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a Mesopotamian temple tower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • alphabet-magnets
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ