my·​e·​li·​tis ˌmī-ə-ˈlī-təs How to pronounce myelitis (audio)
plural myelitides ˌmī-ə-ˈli-tə-ˌdēz How to pronounce myelitis (audio)
: inflammation of the spinal cord or of the bone marrow

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The rise might be more specifically attributed to enterovirus D68, which, in rare cases, can lead to acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. Carma Hassan, CNN, 27 Sep. 2022 Doctors should prepare for a possible increase in young patients with enterovirus D68, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday, and that may be linked to more cases of the rare, paralyzing condition acute flaccid myelitis. Carma Hassan, CNN, 27 Sep. 2022 A decade later, and another researcher named Matthew Vogt was studying a syndrome that had only been classified in the subsequent years, picking up the name acute flaccid myelitis. Andrew Joseph, STAT, 29 May 2022 One enterovirus, called EV-D68, is associated with a polio-like neurologic condition called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in young children, and health officials are bracing for a subsequent uptick in AFM cases. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 24 Oct. 2022 In rare cases, children with EV-D68 can develop a serious neurologic condition, called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), which affects the nervous system and weakens the body’s muscles and reflexes. Maggie O'neill, SELF, 14 Sep. 2022 Acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, is a severe neurological condition that affects the nervous system — specifically the spinal cord — and causes loss of reflexes and a sudden unexplained weakness or paralysis of the arms or legs. Vanessa Etienne, Peoplemag, 13 Sep. 2022 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health alert warning physicians to prepare for an increase of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), which has been linked to a rare but serious condition called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, 6 Oct. 2022 Another possible cause of acute flaccid myelitis and paralysis can be polio. Los Angeles Times, 14 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


borrowed from New Latin (in German context), from Greek myelós "bone marrow" + New Latin -itis -itis — more at myelo-

Note: The word was apparently introduced by the German physician Christian Friedrich Harless (Harleß, in some of his publications Harles, 1773-1853) in "Valerian Aloys Brera über die Entzündung des Rückenmarks," Jahrbücher der teutschen Medicin und Chirurgie, 2. Band (1813), p. 244. Harless's essay purports to be a translation of "Della rachialgite - Cenni patologici" by the Italian physician Valeriano Luigi Brera (1772-1840), published in Atti dell'Accademia italiana di lettere, scienze, ed arti, tomo primo, parte prima, Livorno, 1810, pp. 247-76. Brera, however, uses only the word rachialgite for inflammation of the spinal chord, which Harless latinizes as Rhachialgitis. In a footnote introducing this word Harless adds: "Man könnte auch wohl, noch bezeichnender, für die Entzündung des Rückenmarks selbst den Namen Myelitis wählen, um so füglicher, weil μυελος bei Hippokrates, Galen, u.a. griech. Aertzen häufig ohne den Zusatz des Beiworts νωτιαιος (dorsalis) zur Bezeichnung des Rückenmarks gebraucht wird." ("One could as well also choose myelitis as a more aptly characterizing name for inflammation of the spinal marrow, the more justifiable because Hippocrates, Galen and other Greek physicians frequently used myelos without the addition of the modifying word nōtiaios (dorsalis [spinal]) as a designation for spinal marrow.")

First Known Use

1835, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of myelitis was in 1835

Dictionary Entries Near myelitis

Cite this Entry

“Myelitis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Medical Definition


my·​e·​li·​tis ˌmī-ə-ˈlīt-əs How to pronounce myelitis (audio)
plural myelitides -ˈlit-ə-ˌdēz How to pronounce myelitis (audio)
: inflammation of the spinal cord or of the bone marrow
myelitic adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on myelitis

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