sep·​sis | \ ˈsep-səs How to pronounce sepsis (audio) \
plural sepses\ ˈsep-​ˌsēz How to pronounce sepses (audio) \

Definition of sepsis

: a toxic condition resulting from the spread of bacteria or their toxins from a focus of infection especially : septicemia

Examples of sepsis in a Sentence

She was treated for sepsis of the urinary tract.

Recent Examples on the Web

Three weeks earlier, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal, also an indigenous Guatemalan, died of sepsis shock, fever, and dehydration at El Paso Children’s Hospital after being detained with her father. Lauren Bohn, Marie Claire, "Who Killed Claudia Gomez?," 2 May 2019 Your body normally releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight an infection like this, but in sepsis, those chemicals actually trigger a response that can damage organ systems and dangerously lower blood pressure — sometimes fatally. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Here's Why It's Taking Whoopi Goldberg Weeks to Recover From Pneumonia, According to Doctors," 8 Mar. 2019 Choosing treatments One of the two studies focuses on sepsis, which occurs when the immune system mounts an excessive response to an infection. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "AIs trained to help with sepsis treatment, fracture diagnosis," 27 Oct. 2018 Parents should also be on the lookout for sepsis, a life-threatening complication caused by the body’s overwhelming attack against an infection. Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, "How to Know When a Child’s Flu Turns Serious," 7 Feb. 2018 The 2014 surgery performed by Almanza led to several medical complications, including severe bleeding, sepsis and and continuing health problems, the lawsuit states. Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY, "Patients say Mexican weight-loss operations killed 1, harmed others," 28 Apr. 2018 In others, the flu virus can attack the body’s organs, causing fatal sepsis or inflammation. Robyn Correll, Washington Post, "My toddler was so sick with the flu. Here’s why I think he survived.," 18 Feb. 2018 This spring, Children’s adopted improvement plans for treating sepsis patients quickly and for administering Propofol accurately, averting discipline by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Liz Kowalczyk,, "Report faults Children’s Hospital for medication errors," 27 May 2018 There are guidelines available for treating sepsis patients, but the numbers suggest there's still considerable room for improvement. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "AIs trained to help with sepsis treatment, fracture diagnosis," 27 Oct. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of sepsis

1876, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sepsis

New Latin, from Greek sēpsis decay, from sēpein to putrefy

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sepsis

Dictionary Entries near sepsis








Statistics for sepsis

Last Updated

13 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sepsis

The first known use of sepsis was in 1876

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sepsis



English Language Learners Definition of sepsis

medical : illness caused by an infection in a part of the body


sep·​sis | \ ˈsep-səs How to pronounce sepsis (audio) \
plural sepses\ ˈsep-​ˌsēz How to pronounce sepses (audio) \

Medical Definition of sepsis

: a systemic response typically to a serious usually localized infection (as of the abdomen or lungs) especially of bacterial origin that is usually marked by abnormal body temperature and white blood cell count, tachycardia, and tachypnea specifically : systemic inflammatory response syndrome induced by a documented infection — see multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, septic shock

More from Merriam-Webster on sepsis

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sepsis

Britannica English: Translation of sepsis for Arabic Speakers

Comments on sepsis

What made you want to look up sepsis? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!