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[mahy-az-muh, mee-]
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

Related Words for miasmata

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

Examples from the Web for miasmata

Historical Examples of miasmata

  • It thus aids in maintaining the balance of life, and cleanses the swamps of miasmata, thus purifying the air we breathe.

    Our Common Insects

    Alpheus Spring Packard

  • The atmosphere of such a town would be like that of the country, insusceptible of the miasmata which produce yellow fever.

  • This quiet life of Carl's had produced a mental stagnation, from which arose all sorts of miasmata.

  • A film of foreign substance on the skin will inevitably become the seat of detention of miasmata and infectious vapors.

  • He also carried a large jar full of chlorine water, to keep off all miasmata.

    Madame Bovary

    Gustave Flaubert

British Dictionary definitions for miasmata


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 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 miasmata



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