po·​lio·​my·​eli·​tis ˌpō-lē-(ˌ)ō-ˌmī-ə-ˈlī-təs How to pronounce poliomyelitis (audio)
: polio

Examples of poliomyelitis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There is no cure for paralytic poliomyelitis. Dr. Céline Gounder, CBS News, 15 Sep. 2022 Eradicating poliomyelitis: India's journey from hyperendemic to polio-free status. Rebecca Kreston, Discover Magazine, 28 Apr. 2016 These are frightening times as the coronavirus spreads in ways reminiscent of poliomyelitis. Carl Kurlander, Discover Magazine, 2 Apr. 2020 Cases of paralytic poliomyelitis disease plummeted from over 15,000 a year in the early 1950s to under 100 in the 1960s and then down to fewer than 10 in the 1970s. Dr. Céline Gounder, CBS News, 15 Sep. 2022 Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a highly infectious viral disease that largely affects children under age 5 that is mainly spread through contact with human fecal matter. Hyder Abbasi, NBC News, 11 Aug. 2022 Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a viral disease that affects the nervous system. Fox News, 23 July 2022 Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is highly contagious and spreads via person-to-person contact even when the original contagious patient doesn't show symptoms. Mary Kekatos, ABC News, 22 July 2022 Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease, which invades the nervous system and spreads mainly through contamination by fecal matter. Adela Suliman, BostonGlobe.com, 23 June 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'poliomyelitis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from New Latin (in German context), from Greek poliós "pale gray (as of human hair), grizzled" + -o- -o- + myelós "marrow" (alluding to the gray matter of the ventral horns of the spinal cord, which the disease affects) + New Latin -itis -itis — more at fallow entry 1, myelo-

Note: The word was apparently introduced by the German physician Adolf Kussmaul (1822-1902), in a publication by his assistant, Anton Frey, "Aus der Klinik des Herrn Geh. Rath Prof. Kussmaul in Freiburg i. B. Ein Fall von subacuter Lähmung Erwachsener—wahrscheinlich Poliomyelitis anterior subacuta," Berliner klinische Wochenschrift, 11. Jahrgang, No. 45 (9 November 1874), pp. 566-68. Compare earlier New Latin myelitis myelitis.

First Known Use

1875, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of poliomyelitis was in 1875

Dictionary Entries Near poliomyelitis

Cite this Entry

“Poliomyelitis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/poliomyelitis. Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


po·​lio·​my·​eli·​tis ˌpō-lē-ˌō-ˌmī-ə-ˈlīt-əs How to pronounce poliomyelitis (audio)
: an infectious virus disease marked by inflammation of nerve cells in the spinal cord accompanied by fever and often paralysis and wasting of muscles

called also infantile paralysis

Medical Definition


po·​lio·​my·​eli·​tis ˌpō-lē-(ˌ)ō-ˌmī-ə-ˈlīt-əs How to pronounce poliomyelitis (audio)
plural poliomyelitides -ˈlit-ə-ˌdēz How to pronounce poliomyelitis (audio)
: polio
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