noun, plural an·thra·ces [an-thruh-seez] /ˈæn θrəˌsiz/. Pathology.

an infectious, often fatal disease of cattle, sheep, and other mammals, caused by Bacillus anthracis, transmitted to humans by contaminated wool, raw meat, or other animal products.
a malignant carbuncle that is the diagnostic lesion of anthrax disease in humans.

Origin of anthrax

1350–1400; Middle English antrax malignant boil or growth < Latin anthrax carbuncle < Greek ánthrax a coal, carbuncle Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for anthrax

Contemporary Examples of anthrax

  • The son is reportedly part of a new generation of young drug lords who called themselves “the Anthrax Group.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    Could El Chapo Go Free?

    Michael Daly

    November 19, 2014

  • Where better to test cultures of anthrax, typhoid, plague and tularemia than on an island in a sea in the middle of the desert?

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Aral Sea's Disappearing Act

    Anna Nemtsova

    October 4, 2014

  • As a result of the small size of the spores, anthrax is virtually impossible to see, smell, or taste.

  • News that 75 government scientists had been exposed to anthrax in Atlanta sent shivers up the spine of the science world Thursday.

  • Anthrax could be released in a city, quietly, without anyone knowing,” the narrator says.

Historical Examples of anthrax

British Dictionary definitions for anthrax


noun plural -thraces (-θrəˌsiːz)

a highly infectious and often fatal disease of herbivores, esp cattle and sheep, characterized by fever, enlarged spleen, and swelling of the throat. Carnivores are relatively resistant. It is caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis and can be transmitted to man
a pustule or other lesion caused by this disease

Word Origin for anthrax

C19: from Late Latin, from Greek: carbuncle
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 anthrax

late 14c., "any severe boil or carbuncle," from Latin, from Greek anthrax "charcoal, live coal," also "carbuncle," of unknown origin. Specific sense of the malignant disease in sheep and cattle (and occasionally humans) is from 1876.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

anthrax in Medicine




An infectious, usually fatal disease of warm-blooded animals that is characterized by ulcerative skin lesions, can be transmitted to humans, and is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis.carbuncle
A lesion caused by anthrax.
Related formsan•thrac•ic (ăn-thrăsĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

anthrax in Science



An infectious, usually fatal disease of mammals, especially cattle and sheep, caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. The disease is transmitted to humans through cutaneous contact, ingestion, or inhalation. Cutaneous anthrax is marked by the formation of a necrotic skin ulcer, high fever, and toxemia. Inhalation anthrax leads to severe pneumonia that is usually fatal.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

anthrax in Culture


An infectious disease transmitted by a bacterium in animals, which can also be transmitted to humans. Often fatal if the bacterium enters the lungs, anthrax is usually treated by antibiotics. Anthrax is a potential weapon in germ warfare and bioterrorism (see also bioterrorism).


After the September 11 attacks (2001) in the United States, anthrax spores sent through the mail caused several fatalities.


If spores are prepared in a sophisticated way, they can stay in the air and be breathed in by human beings. Anthrax produced in this way is referred to as weaponized anthrax.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.