syphilis

noun
syph·​i·​lis | \ ˈsi-f(ə-)ləs How to pronounce syphilis (audio) \

Definition of syphilis

: a chronic contagious usually venereal and often congenital disease caused by a spirochete (Treponema pallidum) and if left untreated producing chancres, rashes, and systemic lesions in a clinical course with three stages continued over many years — compare primary syphilis, secondary syphilis, tertiary syphilis

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from syphilis

syphilitic \ ˌsi-​fə-​ˈli-​tik How to pronounce syphilitic (audio) \ adjective or noun

Examples of syphilis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Centers for Disease Control, for example, was established in 1946 to fight malaria in the Deep South and prevent its spread—also inheriting, and continuing, the evil that was the Tuskegee syphilis study. Paul Ford, Wired, "Love the USPS? Join the Infrastructure Appreciation Society!," 17 Nov. 2020 Mob boss Al Capone, ill with syphilis, is released from prison after serving 7 1/2 years for tax evasion and failure to file tax returns. Bryan Robinson, Fox News, "This Day in History: Nov. 16," 16 Nov. 2020 Schubert had just been diagnosed with syphilis, and some of the songs were almost certainly composed in the hospital. Ian Bostridge, New York Times, "Ian Bostridge on Schubert’s Hidden Depths," 3 Nov. 2020 Perhaps the most infamous case is the horrific Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, in which the U.S. Public Health Service deliberately withheld treatment for syphilis from hundreds of Black men. Zachary Siegel, The New Republic, "Scientists Are Finally Denouncing Trump. What Took So Long?," 20 Oct. 2020 Most famously, the Tuskegee syphilis study began in 1932 with the goal of tracking the damage the disease does to the human body. Michael A. Fletcher, National Geographic, "Black Americans see a health-care system infected by racism, new poll shows," 16 Oct. 2020 Notorious historical experiments such as the Tuskegee study, in which Black men in Alabama with syphilis were lied to and left to die, contribute to a fear of clinical research. Olivia Goldhill, Quartz, "The business interests behind vaccine trials work against people of color," 13 Oct. 2020 During the 20th century, researchers lied to hundreds of Black men and withheld treatment from them over decades in the Tuskegee syphilis study. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "A taskforce of Black doctors is independently evaluating COVID-19 vaccine candidates," 12 Oct. 2020 An infamous example is the Tuskegee experiments starting in the 1930s where Black men with syphilis were left untreated as part of an experiment to study the symptoms of the disease. Amber Randall, sun-sentinel.com, "A South Florida COVID-19 vaccine trial is recruiting minority participants. Will it be successful?," 6 Oct. 2020

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

1653, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for syphilis

New Latin, from Syphilus, hero of the poem Syphilis sive Morbus Gallicus (Syphilis or the French disease) (1530) by Girolamo Fracastoro †1553 Italian poet and physician

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about syphilis

Time Traveler for syphilis

Time Traveler

The first known use of syphilis was in 1653

See more words from the same year

Statistics for syphilis

Last Updated

19 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Syphilis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/syphilis. Accessed 28 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for syphilis

syphilis

noun
How to pronounce syphilis (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of syphilis

medical : a very serious disease that is spread through sexual intercourse

syphilis

noun
syph·​i·​lis | \ ˈsif-(ə-)ləs How to pronounce syphilis (audio) \

Medical Definition of syphilis

: a chronic contagious usually venereal and often congenital disease that is caused by a spirochete of the genus Treponema (T. pallidum) and if left untreated produces chancres, rashes, and systemic lesions in a clinical course with three stages continued over many years

called also lues

— see primary syphilis, secondary syphilis, tertiary syphilis

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on syphilis

Nglish: Translation of syphilis for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of syphilis for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about syphilis

Comments on syphilis

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

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!