poly·​oma·​vi·​rus ˌpä-lē-ˈō-mə-ˌvī-rəs How to pronounce polyomavirus (audio)
: any virus of a family (Polyomaviridae and especially genus Polyomavirus) of double-stranded DNA viruses that induce tumors in specific mammals

Examples of polyomavirus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web About 80% of Merkel cell tumors are infected with the Merkel cell polyomavirus. Gretchen Cuda Kroen, cleveland, 6 Sep. 2023 Yet a common virus, called Merkel cell polyomavirus, is thought to be involved in about 80 percent of cases of the cancer. Kay Lazar, BostonGlobe.com, 11 Mar. 2023 In a small study of postmortem brain tissue last year, Persico’s group found that autistic subjects’ brains were three times as likely as those of healthy individuals to harbor a microbe called a polyomavirus. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, 1 Aug. 2011 In recent years, researchers have suggested that viruses such as herpes virus-6, Merkel cell polyomavirus and Epstein-Barr could trigger LCH. Amitha Kalaichandran, Discover Magazine, 9 Aug. 2020 The raccoon polyomavirus is more closely related to the human version, rather than that of animals, according to the study published in the January issue of Emerging Infectious Disease. Breanna Draxler, Discover Magazine, 10 Jan. 2013 In that case, the JC polyomavirus may become active and destroy the cells that make myelin, according to the National Organization of Rare Diseases (NORD). Sara Gaynes Levy, SELF, 7 Mar. 2022 Twarock’s tilings therefore applied to a wider range of viruses, including the polyomaviruses and papillomaviruses that had evaded Caspar and Klug’s classification. Quanta Magazine, 19 July 2017 The lab extracted and sequenced the genetic material in the sample, intending to look for an organism called JC polyomavirus that is a research interest of one of the team members. National Geographic, 8 Dec. 2016

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

Word History


New Latin polyoma, from poly- + -oma

First Known Use

1958, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of polyomavirus was in 1958

Dictionary Entries Near polyomavirus

Cite this Entry

“Polyomavirus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polyomavirus. Accessed 16 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition


capitalized : a genus of double-stranded DNA viruses (family Polyomaviridae) that contain a single molecule of DNA, have a capsid composed of 72 capsomers, and induce tumors usually in specific mammals and that include simian virus 40 and the causative agent of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
: any of the genus Polyomavirus of double-stranded DNA viruses

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