spi·​ro·​chete | \ ˈspī-rə-ˌkēt How to pronounce spirochete (audio) \
variants: or less commonly spirochaete

Definition of spirochete

: any of an order (Spirochaetales) of slender spirally undulating bacteria including those causing syphilis and Lyme disease

Examples of spirochete in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Multiple sclerosis is often associated with the commonplace Epstein-Barr virus, rheumatic fever with the same bacteria that cause strep throat, and Lyme, famously, with bites from ticks that carry a spirochete called Borrelia burgdorferi. Ross Douthat, Star Tribune, 2 Feb. 2021 Through this method, India became yaws-free in 2016, though the emergence of antibiotic resistance in the spirochete may complicate efforts. Quanta Magazine, 3 Dec. 2019 Acute encephalitis syndrome, including Japanese encephalitis, is caused by several different viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, spirochetes, chemical and toxins. Washington Post, 2 Nov. 2019 Barbour had spent the year learning the complex requirements for growing Borrelia, a type of spirochete transmitted by ticks or lice. Allen Steere, BostonGlobe.com, 22 Aug. 2019 In 1982, while dissecting the mid-gut of a tiny nymphal Ixodes scapularis tick, Burgdorfer noted what looked like spirochetes. Allen Steere, BostonGlobe.com, 22 Aug. 2019 Ibsen’s ghosts were not just spirochetes but also ideas: the false ones that ruin lives and generations. Jesse Green, New York Times, 12 Aug. 2019 Infected ticks need to be attached 24 to 72 hours before transmission of the spirochete [bacteria] occurs. Andrea K. Mcdaniels, baltimoresun.com, 3 July 2018 The director of the CAES tick testing program, Goudarz Molaei, said about 40 percent of the more than 2,600 ticks checked so far this season are carrying the Lyme disease spirochetes. Gregory B. Hladky, courant.com, 25 June 2018

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

circa 1877, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for spirochete

New Latin Spirochaeta, genus of bacteria, from Latin spira coil + Greek chaitē long hair — more at spire

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The first known use of spirochete was circa 1877

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Cite this Entry

“Spirochete.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spirochete. Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for spirochete


variants: or chiefly British spirochaete \ ˈspī-​rə-​ˌkēt How to pronounce spirochete (audio) \

Medical Definition of spirochete

: any bacterium of the order Spirochaetales including those causing syphilis and relapsing fever

More from Merriam-Webster on spirochete

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spirochete


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