Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To contaminate with a pathogenic microorganism or agent.
  • transitive v. To communicate a pathogen or disease to.
  • transitive v. To invade and produce infection in.
  • transitive v. To contaminate or corrupt: envy that infected their thoughts; a society that was infected by racism.
  • transitive v. To affect in a contagious way: "His fear infected me, and . . . I followed as fast as I could” ( W.H. Hudson).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to bring into contact with a substance that can cause illness (a pathogen)
  • v. to make somebody enthusiastic about one's own passion

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Infected. Cf. enfect.
  • transitive v. To taint with morbid matter or any pestilential or noxious substance or effluvium by which disease is produced
  • transitive v. To affect with infectious disease; to communicate infection to.
  • transitive v. To communicate to or affect with, as qualities or emotions, esp. bad qualities; to corrupt; to contaminate; to taint by the communication of anything noxious or pernicious.
  • transitive v. To contaminate with illegality or to expose to penalty.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To affect as with something infused or instilled; imbue; impregnate; permeate: used especially of that which is bad or hurtful, but sometimes also of that which is good or indifferent.
  • Specifically To taint with disease or the seeds of disease, either physical or moral: as, to infect a person with smallpox; literature infected with immorality.
  • In law, to taint or contaminate with illegality, or expose to penalty, seizure, or forfeiture.
  • Synonyms To poison, pollute, defile.
  • Infected; tainted; affected unfavorably.
  • Contaminated with illegality; having a flaw in the title.
  • Marred; discolored; darkened.
  • In philology, to affect the quality of a sound in a following or preceding syllable: used especially in reference to the influence of prominent vowels, and phonetic changes, in the Celtic language.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. affect in a contagious way
  • v. communicate a disease to
  • v. corrupt with ideas or an ideology
  • v. contaminate with a disease or microorganism

Etymologies

Middle English infecten, to afflict with disease, from Latin īnficere, īnfect-, to stain, infect (in-, in; see in-2 + facere, to do; see dhē- in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin infectus, perfect passive participle of inficiō ("dye, taint"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • He looked distastefully at the age-cracked walls, stained with patches of damp that seemed like a material form of disgrace. That she should have grown to beauty in these infect surroundings made him feel, as he had often done before, that she was not all human and corruptible, but that her flesh was mixed with precious substance not subject to decay, her blood interpenetrated with the material of jewels.

    - Rebecca West, The Judge

    July 29, 2009