trep·​o·​ne·​ma ˌtre-pə-ˈnē-mə How to pronounce treponema (audio)
plural treponemata ˌtre-pə-ˈnē-mə-tə How to pronounce treponema (audio) or treponemas
: any of a genus (Treponema) of spirochetes that are pathogenic in humans and other warm-blooded animals and include the causative agents of syphilis and yaws
treponemal adjective

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Her own research has led her to suspect that the treponema bacteria originated in the New World, manifesting as yaws and spread through skin-to-skin contact exposed by a warm climate. National Geographic, 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'treponema.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


New Latin Treponemat-, Treponema, from Greek trepein to turn + nēma thread, from nēn to spin — more at needle

First Known Use

1908, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of treponema was in 1908

Dictionary Entries Near treponema

Cite this Entry

“Treponema.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Medical Definition



trep·​o·​ne·​ma ˌtrep-ə-ˈnē-mə How to pronounce treponema (audio)
capitalized : a genus of the family Spirochaetaceae comprising anaerobic spirochetes that are pathogenic in humans and other warm-blooded animals and include one (T. pallidum) causing syphilis and another (T. pertenue) causing yaws
plural treponemata -mət-ə How to pronounce treponema (audio) or treponemas : any spirochete of the genus Treponema
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