[ mahy-az-muh, mee- ]
See synonyms for: miasmamiasmaticmiasmic on Thesaurus.com

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.

Origin of miasma

1655–65; <New Latin <Greek míasma stain, pollution, akin to miaínein to pollute, stain

Other words from miasma

  • mi·as·mal, mi·as·mat·ic [mahy-az-mat-ik], /ˌmaɪ æzˈmæt ɪk/, mi·as·mat·i·cal, mi·as·mic, adjective
  • un·mi·as·mal, adjective
  • un·mi·as·mat·ic, adjective
  • un·mi·as·mat·i·cal, adjective
  • un·mi·as·mic, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use miasma in a sentence

  • Yet it kept off some of the chill night air, and the miasmatic breath of that “dismal swamp.”

    Nurse and Spy in the Union Army | S. Emma E. Edmonds
  • Trees were thrown down, and lie rotting in the black and miasmatic water.

  • Diarrhea, typhoid fever, and other miasmatic maladies, became almost universal.

    Three Years in the Sixth Corps | George T. Stevens
  • Their course now lay for many leagues through a low country, abounding in lakes, and miasmatic marshes, and sluggish rivers.

    Hernando Cortez | John S. C. Abbott
  • The air was damp, oppressive and miasmatic, probably because of the rank vegetation that grew everywhere.

    Up the Forked River | Edward Sylvester Ellis

British Dictionary definitions for miasma


/ (mɪˈæzmə) /

nounplural -mata (-mətə) or -mas
  1. an unwholesome or oppressive atmosphere

  2. pollution in the atmosphere, esp noxious vapours from decomposing organic matter

Origin of miasma

C17: New Latin, from Greek: defilement, from miainein to defile

Derived forms of miasma

  • miasmal, miasmatic (ˌmiːəzˈmætɪk), miasmatical or miasmic, adjective

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