stigma

noun stig·ma \ ˈstig-mə \

Definition of stigma

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

stigmal

play \ˈstig-məl\ adjective

Examples of stigma in a Sentence

  1. There's a social stigma attached to receiving welfare.

  2. the stigma of slavery remained long after it had been abolished

Recent Examples of stigma from the Web

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.

Did You Know?

In Greek and Latin, a stigma was a mark or brand, especially one that marked a slave, so a stigma marked a person as inferior. When the plural form stigmata is used, it usually refers to the nail wounds on Christ's hands and feet, wounds which have sometimes reappeared on the hands or feet of later worshippers such as St. Francis. When stigma began to be used in English, it usually meant the kind of mark or stain you can't actually see. So today we hear about the stigma of homelessness, the stigma of overweight, and the stigma of mental illness. People may be so afraid of being stigmatized for losing a job that they'll put on their office clothes and drive out their driveways every weekday morning so that the neighbors won't know.

Origin and Etymology of stigma

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

STIGMA Defined for English Language Learners

stigma

noun

Definition of stigma for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

stigma

noun stig·ma \ ˈstig-mə \

Definition of stigma for Students

plural stigmata \stig-ˈmä-tə, ˈstig-mə-tə\ or stigmas
1 :a mark of disgrace or dishonor
2 :the upper part of the pistil of a flower which receives the pollen grains

Medical Dictionary

stigma

noun stig·ma \ ˈstig-mə \

medical Definition of stigma

plural stigmata play \stig-ˈmät-ə, ˈstig-mət-ə\ or stigmas
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


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

readily predictable

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one-green-toy-robot-amidst-many-red-toy-robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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

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!