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

  • n. Disease transmission by direct or indirect contact.
  • n. A disease that is or may be transmitted by direct or indirect contact; a contagious disease.
  • n. The direct cause, such as a bacterium or virus, of a communicable disease.
  • n. Psychology The spread of a behavior pattern, attitude, or emotion from person to person or group to group through suggestion, propaganda, rumor, or imitation.
  • n. A harmful, corrupting influence: feared that violence on television was a contagion affecting young viewers.
  • n. The tendency to spread, as of a doctrine, influence, or emotional state.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A disease spread by contact
  • n. The spread or transmission of such a disease
  • n. The spread of anything harmful, as if it were such a disease
  • n. A situation in which small shocks, which initially affect only a few financial institutions or a particular region of an economy, spread to the rest of financial sectors and other countries whose economies were previously healthy.
  • n. A resulting recession or crisis developed in such manner.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The transmission of a disease from one person to another, by direct or indirect contact.
  • n. That which serves as a medium or agency to transmit disease; a virus produced by, or exhalation proceeding from, a diseased person, and capable of reproducing the disease.
  • n. The act or means of communicating any influence to the mind or heart.
  • n. Venom; poison.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Infectious contact or communication; specifically and commonly, the communication of a disease from one person or brute to another.
  • n. Hence The communication of a state of feeling, particularly of moral feeling, or of ideas, from one person to another; especially, the communication of moral evil; propagation of mischief; infection: as, the contagion of enthusiasm; the contagion of vice or of evil example.
  • n. Contagium.
  • n. Pestilential influence; malarial or poisonous exhalations.
  • n. A contagious disease.

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

  • n. the communication of an attitude or emotional state among a number of people
  • n. an incident in which an infectious disease is transmitted
  • n. any disease easily transmitted by contact


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

Middle English contagioun, from Latin contāgiō, contāgiōn-, from contingere, contāct-, to touch; see contact.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English (late 14th century), from Old French, from Latin contagio ("a touching, contact, contagion") related to contingo ("touch closely")



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  • "The preoccupation with local color encouraged love of surfaces, if not a satisfaction with surfaces alone; so that, though the local color novel was likely to be a more serious performance than the short story of the type, it nevertheless suffered from the contagion of triviality."

    - Carl Van Doren, 'The American Novel'.

    September 20, 2009