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miasma

[mahy-az-muh, mee-]
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noun, plural mi·as·mas, mi·as·ma·ta [mahy-az-muh-tuh, mee-] /maɪˈæz mə tə, mi-/.
  1. noxious exhalations from putrescent organic matter; poisonous effluvia or germs polluting the atmosphere.
  2. a dangerous, foreboding, or deathlike influence or atmosphere.
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Origin of miasma

1655–65; < New Latin < Greek míasma stain, pollution, akin to miaínein to pollute, stain
Related formsmi·as·mal, mi·as·mat·ic [mahy-az-mat-ik] /ˌmaɪ æzˈmæt ɪk/, mi·as·mat·i·cal, mi·as·mic, adjectiveun·mi·as·mal, adjectiveun·mi·as·mat·ic, adjectiveun·mi·as·mat·i·cal, adjectiveun·mi·as·mic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for miasmal

Historical Examples

  • There were decaying patches on the fungus growths and a miasmal mist was descending from it toward the ship.

    The Sky Trap

    Frank Belknap Long

  • The miasmal vapors that clustered thickly about the flats by night gathered their linen and fled like the hunted.

    The Argus Pheasant

    John Charles Beecham


British Dictionary definitions for miasmal

miasma

noun plural -mata (-mətə) or -mas
  1. an unwholesome or oppressive atmosphere
  2. pollution in the atmosphere, esp noxious vapours from decomposing organic matter
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Derived Formsmiasmal, miasmatic (ˌmiːəzˈmætɪk), miasmatical or miasmic, adjective

Word Origin

C17: New Latin, from Greek: defilement, from miainein to defile
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for miasmal

miasma

n.

1660s, from Modern Latin miasma "noxious vapors," from Greek miasma (genitive miasmatos) "stain, pollution, defilement, taint of guilt," from stem of miainein "to pollute," from possible PIE root *mai- "to stain, soil, defile" (cf. Old English mal "stain, mark," see mole (n.1)). Earlier form was miasm (1640s), from French miasme. Related: Miasmatic; miasmal.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper