miasma

play
noun mi·as·ma \mī-ˈaz-mə, mē-\

Definition of miasma

plural

miasmas

also

miasmata

play \-mə-tə\
  1. 1 :  a vaporous exhalation formerly believed to cause disease; also :  a heavy vaporous emanation (see emanation 2) 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 the enervating miasma of fear — The Times Literary Supplement (London); 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

miasma was our Word of the Day on 10/15/2015. Hear the podcast!

Recent Examples of miasma from the Web

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


MIASMA Defined for English Language Learners

miasma

play
noun

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


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lacking social experience or grace

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