patient zero

[ pey-shuhnt zeer-oh ]

noun
  1. Pathology. the first known carrier of infection in an outbreak: Public health officials are tracing all contacts of infected patients, trying to work their way back to find patient zero.: See also index patient.

  2. the person or thing that is believed to be the point of origin for any spreading effect, status, or event, especially if negative: One rowdy new student was patient zero for all kinds of classroom chaos and problem behaviors.

Origin of patient zero

1
First recorded in 1985–90

Words Nearby patient zero

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024