super-spreader

noun

su·​per-spread·​er ˌsü-pər-ˈspre-dər How to pronounce super-spreader (audio)
variants or superspreader
plural super-spreaders or superspreaders
1
: an individual who is highly contagious and capable of transmitting a communicable disease to an unusually large number of uninfected individuals
Health authorities are watching uneasily for an event that could reverse their apparent success in containing the U.S. outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome: the arrival of a so-called super-spreader.M. A. J. McKenna
The story of a traveling British businessman who appears to have passed the coronavirus to Britons in at least three countries has prompted concerns over a 'superspreader,' who could play an outsize role in transmitting the infection.Karla Adam
2
: an event or location at which a significant number of people contract the same communicable disease
often used before another noun
So far, super-spreader events have occurred in a range of places including meat packing plants, prisons, nightclubs and bars—basically any venue where people are in close proximity of one another, ventilation is poor and the virus gets the opportunity to spread like wildfire.Natasha Hinde
The influx of students had quickly turned Minot State University into a superspreader site: within two weeks, more than ten per cent of the coronavirus tests that students received were coming back positive.Atul Gawande

Examples of super-spreader in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Will the gathering of G20 heads of state serve as a super-spreader event? Byerin Prater, Fortune Well, 9 Sep. 2023 With the rise of long-distance travel, a pathogen can now transit the globe in hours, and the growth of mass gatherings—from the Olympics to Oktoberfest in Germany to the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia—increases the odds of super-spreader events that can infect large numbers of people at one time. Larry Brilliant, Foreign Affairs, 20 Dec. 2022 In a world where information super-spreaders and trading systems rob traders of their competitive alpha (in short, the benefit of being fast to trade using quantitative tools), the transparency of public blockchains represents an additional problem to those looking for an advantage. Oliver Gale, Forbes, 19 Apr. 2023

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

Word History

First Known Use

1973, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of super-spreader was in 1973

Dictionary Entries Near super-spreader

Cite this Entry

“Super-spreader.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/super-spreader. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition

super-spreader

noun
su·​per-spread·​er
variants or superspreader
1
: an individual who is highly contagious and capable of transmitting a communicable disease to an unusually large number of uninfected individuals
Unfortunately, the man was what is now known as a "super-spreader"—one of a small group of SARS patients who is highly infectious.Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times
There do seem to be superspreaders, a loosely defined term for people who infect a disproportionate number of others …Gina Kolata, The Houston (Texas) Chronicle
2
: an event or location at which a significant number of people contract the same communicable disease
often used before another noun
… they weren't aware that an after-hours club has been operating … for at least two months. They say it not only appears to be an illegal operation, but a potential coronavirus super-spreader site.Dean Narciso, The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch
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