[mahy-az-muh, mee-]

noun, plural mi·as·mas, mi·as·ma·ta [mahy-az-muh-tuh, mee-] /maɪˈæz mə tə, mi-/.

noxious exhalations from putrescent organic matter; poisonous effluvia or germs polluting the atmosphere.
a dangerous, foreboding, or deathlike influence or atmosphere.

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. 2019

Related Words for miasma

reek, stink, vapor, odor, gas, fumes, smog, pollution, smell, stench, fetor, mephitis

Examples from the Web for miasma

Contemporary Examples of miasma

Historical Examples of miasma

  • In the age of monarchy the king lived surrounded by a miasma of intrigue.

    Creative Unity

    Rabindranath Tagore

  • And there is no cramp in my heart, no miasma clinging to my senses.


    John Galsworthy

  • Otherwise we run the danger of suffocation from the miasma of vulgarity.

    A Family of Noblemen

    Mikhal Saltykov

  • It was as if Black Dan had dissolved into a miasma, and floated off.


    Charles G. D. Roberts

  • It has, it is true, absorbed thousands of elements of miasma and filthiness!

British Dictionary definitions for miasma


noun plural -mata (-mətə) or -mas

an unwholesome or oppressive atmosphere
pollution in the atmosphere, esp noxious vapours from decomposing organic matter
Derived Formsmiasmal, miasmatic (ˌmiːəzˈmætɪk), miasmatical or miasmic, adjective

Word Origin for miasma

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 miasma

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper