or spi·ro·chaete

[ spahy-ruh-keet ]
/ ˈspaɪ rəˌkit /


any of various spiral-shaped motile bacteria of the family Spirochaetaceae, certain species, as Treponema, Leptospira, and Borrelia, being pathogenic to humans and other animals, and other species being free-living, saprophytic, or parasitic.

Nearby words

  1. spirketting,
  2. spiro-,
  3. spirochaeta,
  4. spirochaete,
  5. spirochaetosis,
  6. spirochetemia,
  7. spirochetosis,
  8. spirogram,
  9. spirograph,
  10. spirographic

Origin of spirochete

1875–80; < New Latin spīrochaeta. See spiro-2, chaeta-

Related formsspi·ro·chet·al, spi·ro·che·tic, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for spirochaete


US spirochete

/ (ˈspaɪrəʊˌkiːt) /


any of a group of spirally coiled rodlike bacteria that includes the causative agent of syphilisSee treponema

Word Origin for spirochaete

C19: from New Latin spīrochaeta; see spiro- ², chaeta

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 spirochaete



1877, from Modern Latin Spirochæta, the genus name, from spiro- Modern Latin comb. form of Greek speira "a coil" (see spiral) + Greek khaite "hair" (see chaeto-).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for spirochaete


[ spīrə-kēt′ ]


Any of various slender, spiral, motile bacteria of the order Spirochaetales, many of which are pathogenic, causing syphilis, relapsing fever, yaws, and other diseases.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for spirochaete


[ spīrə-kēt′ ]

Any of various bacteria of the order Spirochaetales that are shaped like a spiral, such as Treponema pallidum, the pathogen that causes syphilis.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.