miasma

noun
mi·​as·​ma | \ mī-ˈaz-mə How to pronounce miasma (audio) , mē-\
plural miasmas also miasmata\ mī-​ˈaz-​mə-​tə How to pronounce miasmata (audio) , mē-​ \

Definition of miasma

1 : a vaporous exhalation formerly believed to cause disease also : a heavy vaporous emanation (see emanation sense 2) or atmosphere a miasma of tobacco smoke
2 : an influence or atmosphere that tends to deplete or corrupt freed from the miasma of poverty— Sir Arthur Bryant the enervating miasma of fearThe Times Literary Supplement (London) also : an atmosphere that obscures : fog

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Other Words from miasma

miasmal \ mī-​ˈaz-​məl How to pronounce miasmal (audio) , mē-​ \ adjective
miasmatic \ ˌmī-​əz-​ˈma-​tik How to pronounce miasmatic (audio) , mē-​ \ adjective
miasmic \ mī-​ˈaz-​mik How to pronounce miasmic (audio) , mē-​ \ adjective
miasmically \ mī-​ˈaz-​mi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce miasmically (audio) , mē-​ \ 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.

Examples of miasma in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For those looking to build a narrative about Michigan State in this current age, the 21-second clip became the latest evidence that the halcyon days of the Dantonio era had passed and a miasma of negativity had settled over a program in decline. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "How Michigan State football's Mark Dantonio became a victim of his own success," 12 Oct. 2019 Public transit systems in cities like New York and San Francisco are stuck in a miasma of delays. Wired, "Speed Is Killing the Planet. Time to Focus on Efficiency," 24 Sep. 2019 There is a conflation of lies and truth to create a miasma of misinformation, and a stoking of racial and religious grievance to solidify political animosities. Philip Kennicott, chicagotribune.com, "Will future museums study our migrant cages?," 22 July 2019 Troubles up top Trace the nearly two decades of Raiders miasma to uneven stewardship. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Raiders trade gone bad is familiar good luck for Philip Rivers," 6 Sep. 2019 The prevailing thought was the miasma theory, which [stated the cause was] noxious and toxic mists and odors emanating from standing water and swamps. Emily Toomey, Smithsonian, "How Mosquitos Helped Shape the Course of Human History," 5 Aug. 2019 Mr Appelbaum aims to focus public attention on the role of economists in the miasma’s descent. The Economist, "When economists ruled the world," 31 Aug. 2019 There is a conflation of lies and truth to create a miasma of misinformation, and a stoking of racial and religious grievance to solidify political animosities. Philip Kennicott, chicagotribune.com, "Will future museums study our migrant cages?," 22 July 2019 Arriving at a cool Corot nude in a darkling landscape or a crisp Picasso nude combing her hair was like gulping fresh air in a miasma. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "Renoir’s Problem Nudes," 19 Aug. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of miasma

1665, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for miasma

New Latin, from Greek, defilement, from miainein to pollute

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Statistics for miasma

Last Updated

18 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for miasma

The first known use of miasma was in 1665

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More Definitions for miasma

miasma

noun
How to pronounce miasma (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of miasma

formal + literary : a heavy cloud of something unpleasant or unhealthy

miasma

noun
mi·​as·​ma | \ mī-ˈaz-mə How to pronounce miasma (audio) , mē- How to pronounce miasma (audio) \
plural miasmas also miasmata\ -​mət-​ə How to pronounce miasmata (audio) \

Medical Definition of miasma

: a vaporous exhalation (as of a marshy region or of putrescent matter) formerly believed to cause disease (as malaria)

Other Words from miasma

miasmal \ -​məl How to pronounce miasmal (audio) \ adjective
miasmatic \ ˌmī-​əz-​ˈmat-​ik How to pronounce miasmatic (audio) \ adjective
miasmic \ mī-​ˈaz-​mik How to pronounce miasmic (audio) , mē-​ How to pronounce miasmic (audio) \ adjective

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