[too-bur-kyuh-loh-sis, tyoo-]
See more synonyms for tuberculosis on
noun Pathology.
  1. an infectious disease that may affect almost any tissue of the body, especially the lungs, caused by the organism Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and characterized by tubercles.
  2. this disease when affecting the lungs; pulmonary phthisis; consumption.
  3. any disease caused by a mycobacterium.

Origin of tuberculosis

1855–60; < New Latin tūberculōsis; see tubercle, -osis
Also called TB (for defs 1, 2).
Related formsan·ti·tu·ber·cu·lo·sis, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for tuberculosis

consumption, phthisis

Examples from the Web for tuberculosis

Contemporary Examples of tuberculosis

Historical Examples of tuberculosis

British Dictionary definitions for tuberculosis


  1. a communicable disease caused by infection with the tubercle bacillus, most frequently affecting the lungs (pulmonary tuberculosis)Also called: consumption, phthisis Abbreviation: TB

Word Origin for tuberculosis

C19: from New Latin; see tubercle, -osis
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 tuberculosis

1860, from Modern Latin, from Latin tuberculum "small swelling, pimple," diminutive of tuber "lump" (see tuber) + -osis, a suffix of Greek origin. So called in reference to the tubercules which form in the lungs. Originally in reference to any disease characterized by tubercules; since the discovery of the tubercule bacillus by Koch (1882) restricted to disease caused by this.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tuberculosis in Medicine


  1. An infectious disease of humans and animals caused by the tubercle bacillus and characterized by the formation of tubercles on the lungs and other tissues of the body, often developing long after the initial infection.
  2. Tuberculosis of the lungs, characterized by the coughing up of mucus and sputum, fever, weight loss, and chest pain.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

tuberculosis in Science


  1. An infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis that is transmitted through inhalation and is characterized by cough, fever, shortness of breath, weight loss, and the appearance of inflammatory substances and tubercles in the lungs. Tuberculosis is highly contagious and can spread to other parts of the body, especially in people with weakened immune systems. Although the incidence of the disease has declined since the introduction of antibiotic treatment in the 1950's, it is still a major public-health problem throughout the world, especially in Asia and Africa.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

tuberculosis in Culture



An infectious disease caused by bacteria that mainly attack the lungs. The disease is characterized by the formation of patches, called tubercles, that appear in the lungs and, in later stages, the bones, joints, and other parts of the body. Tuberculosis is treated with combinations of antibiotics and is no longer considered a major health problem in industrialized countries. It was formerly called consumption.


Years ago, tuberculosis (consumption) was a major killer; it often figures in literature and drama.


In recent years, the incidence of tuberculosis has been on the increase in the United States, particularly in large cities, mainly because the strains of the bacterium have developed resistance to antibiotics.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.