stigma

noun
stig·​ma | \ ˈstig-mə How to pronounce stigma (audio) \
plural stigmas or stigmata\ stig-​ˈmä-​tə How to pronounce stigma (audio) , ˈstig-​mə-​tə How to pronounce stigma (audio) \

Definition of stigma

1a : a mark of shame or discredit : stain bore the stigma of cowardice
b plural usually stigmata : an identifying mark or characteristic specifically : a specific diagnostic sign of a disease
2a plural usually stigmas : the usually apical part of the pistil of a flower which receives the pollen grains and on which they germinate — see flower illustration
b : a small spot, scar, or opening on a plant or animal
3a stigmata plural : bodily marks or pains resembling the wounds of the crucified Jesus and sometimes accompanying religious ecstasy
4 archaic : a scar left by a hot iron : brand

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from stigma

stigmal \ ˈstig-​məl How to pronounce stigma (audio) \ adjective

Did You Know?

Stigma was borrowed from Latin stigmat- , stigma, meaning "mark, brand," and ultimately comes from Greek stizein, meaning "to tattoo." Earliest English use hews close to the word's origin: stigma in English first referred to a scar left by a hot iron—that is, a brand. In modern use the scar is figurative: stigma most often refers to a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something—for example, people talk about the stigma associated with mental illness, or the stigma of poverty. When the plural form stigmata is used, the context is frequently religious: stigmata typically refers to bodily marks or pains resembling the wounds of the crucified Jesus and sometimes accompanying religious ecstasy. The first person said to have experienced this miraculous infliction of stigmata is St. Francis of Assisi, in the 13th century.

Examples of stigma in a Sentence

There's a social stigma attached to receiving welfare. the stigma of slavery remained long after it had been abolished
Recent Examples on the Web Aware of the carbon footprint and environmental stigma of flying, the aircraft industry is taking steps to change. London Gibson, The Indianapolis Star, "If you choose to fly, here's how you can do it in a greener way," 30 Dec. 2020 She is widely respected in a largely conservative Muslim community, no mean achievement considering the stigma attached to advocating on issues like domestic violence, which permeates most cultures and communities. Rifat Malik, Dallas News, "Retiring founder of Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation leaves a legacy of strong, kind leadership," 28 Dec. 2020 But the biggest obstacle to the large-scale adoption of hypnosis remains its stigma. Betsy Morris, WSJ, "Alexa, Hypnotize Me," 28 Dec. 2020 The similarities between that disaster and this one are glaring: The stigma. Los Angeles Times, "A family’s COVID-19 dilemma: Hope he lives or help him die," 23 Dec. 2020 Morehouse is among the historically Black colleges and universities, Black sororities and fraternities and prominent Black pastors who are leading national efforts to remove the stigma around the Covid-19 vaccine. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "CEO of Howard University Hospital got the Covid-19 vaccine to encourage staff to follow her lead," 21 Dec. 2020 Even light misuse can lead to serious neurological effects, including coma, brain damage, or death—not to mention the persistent stigma around addiction. Joseph Stauffer, Fortune, "Doctors and patients face a painkiller crisis, even as they fight COVID," 16 Dec. 2020 The limo whisks the princess off to Harlem Hospital, where the director of the pediatric AIDS unit, Margaret Heagarty, tells her the children there cannot find placements in foster homes because of the stigma around the disease. New York Times, "New York Has a Cameo in ‘The Crown.’ Here’s What Really Happened.," 13 Dec. 2020 There are lots of potential reasons for this, including an awareness that Instagram moderates content and enduring stigma around depression. Ysabel Gerrard, Wired, "The Perils of Moderating Depression on Social Media," 4 Nov. 2020

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

circa 1593, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for stigma

Latin stigmat-, stigma mark, brand, from Greek, from stizein to tattoo — more at stick

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about stigma

Time Traveler for stigma

Time Traveler

The first known use of stigma was circa 1593

See more words from the same year

Statistics for stigma

Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stigma.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stigma. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for stigma

stigma

noun
How to pronounce stigma (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of stigma

: a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something
botany : the top part in the center of a flower which receives the pollen

stigma

noun
stig·​ma | \ ˈstig-mə How to pronounce stigma (audio) \
plural stigmata\ stig-​ˈmä-​tə , ˈstig-​mə-​tə \ or stigmas

Kids Definition of stigma

1 : a mark of disgrace or dishonor
2 : the upper part of the pistil of a flower which receives the pollen grains

stigma

noun
stig·​ma | \ ˈstig-mə How to pronounce stigma (audio) \
plural stigmata\ stig-​ˈmät-​ə How to pronounce stigma (audio) , ˈstig-​mət-​ə How to pronounce stigma (audio) \ or stigmas

Medical Definition of stigma

1 : an identifying mark or characteristic specifically : a specific diagnostic sign of a disease the stigmata of syphilis
3 : a small spot, scar, or opening on a plant or animal

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on stigma

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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