nos·​o·​co·​mi·​al | \ ˌnä-sə-ˈkō-mē-əl How to pronounce nosocomial (audio) , ˌnō-sə- \

Definition of nosocomial

: acquired or occurring in a hospital nosocomial infection

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Nosocomial is a word that usually occurs in formal medical contexts; specifically, in reference to hospital-acquired sickness. We hope you never encounter "nosocomial" as part of your own medical diagnosis, but if you do, you might want to remember that the term descends from "nosocomium," the Late Latin word for "hospital." "Nosocomium" in turn traces to the Greek nosos, meaning "disease." That root has given English other words as well, including "zoonosis" ("a disease communicable from animals to humans under natural conditions") and "nosology" ("a classification or list of diseases" or "a branch of medical science that deals with classification of diseases").

Examples of nosocomial in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In one study at a hospital in London, 15 percent of all SARS-CoV-2 infections were nosocomial—that is, acquired inside the hospital. Christopher Cox, Wired, "The Vulnerable Can Wait. Vaccinate the Super-Spreaders First," 10 Nov. 2020 Everyone who can avoid nosocomial infections appreciates doing so; ditto a night uninterrupted by nurses or technicians waking one every hour, not to mention the noise and light that prevent rest, let alone sleep, in most hospitals. WSJ, "Smart Medicine Can Help, but More Is Needed," 14 July 2017 While being treated, he’d been infected with sentiment, nostalgia, a nasty nosocomial case. Zachary Lazar, New York Times, "A Novel of Desperate New Yorkers and Those Who Evict Them," 11 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nosocomial.' 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 nosocomial

circa 1843, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nosocomial

borrowed from New Latin nosocomiālis, from Late Latin nosocomium "hospital, infirmary" (borrowed from Late Greek nosokomeîon, derivative, with the suffix of place -eion, of Greek nosokoméō, nosokomeîn "to tend the sick," from nósos "disease" + -o- -o- + koméō, komeîn "to take care of, tend") + Latin -ālis -al entry 1; koméō probably iterative derivative from the base of kámnō, kámnein, aorist ékamon "to labor, take pains, be sick," going back to an Indo-European verbal base *ḱemh2- "take pains, tire," whence also Sanskrit áśamīt "(s/he) became quiet," śaśamé "(s/he) has taken pains," śā́myati "(s/he) becomes quiet, fatigues, ceases," Greek akámatos "not resting, untiring" — more at nosology

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The first known use of nosocomial was circa 1843

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Cite this Entry

“Nosocomial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for nosocomial


nos·​o·​co·​mi·​al | \ ˌnäs-ə-ˈkō-mē-əl How to pronounce nosocomial (audio) \

Medical Definition of nosocomial

: acquired or occurring in a hospital nosocomial infection

Other Words from nosocomial

nosocomially \ -​ē How to pronounce nosocomial (audio) \ adverb

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