View synonyms for contagious


[ kuhn-tey-juhs ]


  1. capable of being transmitted by bodily contact with an infected person or object:

    contagious diseases.

  2. carrying or spreading a contagious disease.
  3. tending to spread from person to person:

    contagious laughter.


/ kənˈteɪdʒəs /


  1. (of a disease) capable of being passed on by direct contact with a diseased individual or by handling clothing, etc, contaminated with the causative agent Compare infectious
  2. (of an organism) harbouring or spreading the causative agent of a transmissible disease
  3. causing or likely to cause the same reaction or emotion in several people; catching; infectious

    her laughter was contagious


/ kən-tājəs /

  1. Capable of being transmitted by direct or indirect contact, as an infectious disease.
  2. Bearing contagion, as a person or animal with an infectious disease that is contagious.

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Derived Forms

  • conˈtagiously, adverb
  • conˈtagiousness, noun

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Other Words From

  • con·tagious·ly adverb
  • con·tagious·ness con·ta·gi·os·i·ty [k, uh, n-tey-jee-, os, -i-tee], noun
  • anti·con·tagious adjective
  • anti·con·tagious·ly adverb
  • anti·con·tagious·ness noun
  • noncon·tagious adjective
  • noncon·tagious·ly adverb
  • noncon·tagious·ness noun
  • uncon·tagious adjective
  • uncon·tagious·ly adverb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of contagious1

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Late Latin contāgiōsus, from contāgi(ō) contagion + -ōsus -ous

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A contagious disease is one that can be transmitted from one living being to another through direct or indirect contact. Thus the flu, which can be transmitted by coughing, and cholera, which is often acquired by drinking contaminated water, are contagious diseases. Although infectious is also used to refer to such diseases, it has a slightly different meaning in that it refers to diseases caused by infectious agents —agents such as viruses and bacteria that are not normally present in the body and can cause an infection. While the notion of contagiousness goes back to ancient times, the idea of infectious diseases is more modern, coming from the germ theory of disease, which was not proposed until the later nineteenth century. Contagious and infectious are also used to refer to people who have communicable diseases at a stage at which transmission to others is likely.

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Synonym Study

Contagious, infectious are usually distinguished in technical medical use. Contagious, literally “communicable by contact,” describes a very easily transmitted disease as influenza or the common cold. Infectious refers to a disease involving a microorganism that can be transmitted from one person to another only by a specific kind of contact; venereal diseases are usually infectious. In nontechnical senses, contagious emphasizes the rapidity with which something spreads: Contagious laughter ran through the hall. Infectious suggests the pleasantly irresistible quality of something: Her infectious good humor made her a popular guest.

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Example Sentences

The novel coronavirus is highly contagious and, unlike influenza or rhinoviruses, SARS-CoV-2 is new.

We are a global economy and people travel from different parts of the world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean international travelers are more or less contagious.

One big unknown is whether the reinfected patient was contagious the second time around.

From Fortune

For example, it’s still unclear why the new virus is so much more contagious than its SARS and MERS relatives — each of which have infected fewer than 10,000 people.

Patients are most contagious around the time their symptoms emerge, so this woman was most likely the index case — the first person in the cluster to become infected.

Many doomsday preppers have spent their lives stocking up for an emergency of the type this contagious hemorrhagic fever presents.

It is likely, therefore, that Duncan was much more contagious further into his illness, making transmission increasingly likely.

By then, dripping with fevered sweat, she would have been inarguably contagious.

First: Was he contagious when boarding the plane and are his plane-mates therefore at risk?

While the virus can remain incubated for up to 21 days, it is not contagious until a patient begins showing symptoms.

A suppressed laugh spread its contagious influence all round the table.

Now, youve been skating with Mother Wit and have caught her inventive geniusits contagious.

Dr. Coleridge "considered it to be a contagious nervous disease, the acme or intensest form of which is catalepsy."

For such intensity of evocation is as contagious as an enthusiasm or a panic.

Pliny says the temples were almost deserted through this contagious superstition.





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