• synonyms


or di·ar·rhoe·a

noun Pathology.
  1. an intestinal disorder characterized by abnormal frequency and fluidity of fecal evacuations.
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Origin of diarrhea

1350–1400; Middle English diaria < Late Latin diarrhoea < Greek diárrhoia a flowing through, equivalent to diarrho- (variant stem of diarrheîn to flow through) + -ia -ia
Related formsdi·ar·rhe·al, di·ar·rhe·ic, di·ar·rhet·ic [dahy-uh-ret-ik] /ˌdaɪ əˈrɛt ɪk/, di·ar·rhoe·al, di·ar·rhoe·ic, di·ar·rhoet·ic, adjectivean·ti·di·ar·rhe·al, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for diarrheal

Historical Examples

  • After the administration per os, much of the barium must be carried off in the diarrheal stools.

    Barium, A Cause of the Loco-Weed Disease

    Albert Cornelius Crawford

  • The severity of diarrheal symptoms is much increased by the character and abundance of bacterial poisons.

    Intestinal Ills

    Alcinous Burton Jamison

  • The mucilaginous character of Comfrey root renders it useful in coughs and diarrheal complaints.

    Ginseng and Other Medicinal Plants

    A. R. (Arthur Robert) Harding

  • The invasion of the gastrointestinal tract is announced by diarrheal symptoms.

    Special Report on Diseases of Cattle

    U.S. Department of Agriculture

Word Origin and History for diarrheal



late 14c., from Old French diarrie, from Late Latin diarrhoea, from Greek diarrhoia "diarrhea" (coined by Hippocrates), literally "a flowing through," from diarrhein "to flow through," from dia- "through" (see dia-) + rhein "to flow" (see rheum). Respelled 16c. from diarria on Latin model.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

diarrheal in Medicine


  1. Excessive and frequent evacuation of watery feces.
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Related formsdi′ar•rheal null null adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

diarrheal in Science


  1. Excessive and frequent evacuation of watery feces, usually a symptom of a gastrointestinal disorder. Severe, prolonged diarrhea can lead to dehydration.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

diarrheal in Culture



The frequent passage of abnormally watery feces, which is a sign of illness.

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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.