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)
1
a
: 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
2
a
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
3
a
stigmata plural : bodily marks or pains resembling the wounds of the crucified Jesus and sometimes accompanying religious ecstasy
b
4
archaic : a scar left by a hot iron : brand
stigmal 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.

Example Sentences

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 People living with serious mental illness deserve to live their lives with dignity, respect, and free from discrimination and stigma. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 1 Dec. 2022 Scientists and experts have pushed since the start of the recent outbreak to change the name to avoid discrimination and stigma that could steer people away from testing and vaccination. Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN, 28 Nov. 2022 The organization’s goal is to end AIDS worldwide by 2030, and the Rocket Fund in particular is a multi-year campaign dedicating to ending stigma and deploying resources for the LGBTQ+ community. Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 23 Nov. 2022 Firefighters left out of recommendations Social stigma and fear also are rolled into the hesitancy to get lung cancer screening for some people, said Mamdani, who also is the director of the lung cancer screening program at Karmanos. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, 21 Nov. 2022 Several factors, such as stigma and an inability to afford or access care, make the numbers considerably more dismal among people of color. Melba Newsome, Scientific American, 17 Nov. 2022 That stigma and fear of prosecution under the state’s chemical endangerment law can keep some women from seeking drug treatment and medical care. al, 17 Nov. 2022 And among older Cambodian Americans, who arrived in the United States as refugees and distrust government, there is still much stigma and suspicion around voting. BostonGlobe.com, 22 Oct. 2022 Brokering her own deals with studio heads and navigating stigma and disability, Davies was a fierce woman who blazed a trail amidst a Hollywood increasingly dominated by powerful men. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 19 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

circa 1593, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Time Traveler
The first known use of stigma was circa 1593

Dictionary Entries Near stigma

Cite this Entry

“Stigma.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stigma. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

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
1
a
: a mark of shame : stain
b
: an identifying mark or characteristic
especially : a specific sign that indicates the presence of a disease
2
stigmata plural : bodily marks or pains resembling the wounds of Jesus when nailed on the cross
3
a
: a small spot, scar, or opening on a plant or animal
b
: the upper part of the pistil of a flower which receives the pollen grains and on which they start to grow
stigmatic
stig-ˈmat-ik
adjective

Medical Definition

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
1
: an identifying mark or characteristic
specifically : a specific diagnostic sign of a disease
the stigmata of syphilis
2
3
: a small spot, scar, or opening on a plant or animal

More from Merriam-Webster on stigma

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?

PLAY