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[kuh n-tey-juh n] /kənˈteɪ dʒən/
the communication of disease by direct or indirect contact.
a disease so communicated.
the medium by which a contagious disease is transmitted.
harmful or undesirable contact or influence.
the ready transmission or spread as of an idea or emotion from person to person:
a contagion of fear.
Origin of contagion
1350-1400; Middle English (< Middle French) < Latin contāgiōn- (stem of contāgiō) contact, infection, equivalent to con- con- + tāg- (variant stem of tangere to touch) + -iōn- -ion; cf. contact
Related forms
contagioned, adjective
noncontagion, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for contagion
  • The contagion's momentum has tipped from pushing uphill against all odds to rolling downhill with all odds behind it.
  • The prospect of such contagion-by-calendar had shadowed every summer for the better part of a century.
  • Speculative bubbles are fueled by the social contagion of boom thinking, encouraged by rising prices.
  • It is a contagion that extends to the defense of the initial lie.
  • First, in a highly connected environment, even a small group can spread an economic or thought contagion.
  • Staff may not be infectious enough to warrant it in the end, but a resistant, airborne contagion might be.
  • There was no way to prevent the contagion, no medication to stop it until it had run its course.
  • When the unthinkable suddenly becomes the inevitable, without pausing in the realm of the improbable, then you have contagion.
  • The third objection to denial is that fears of contagion are growing, not receding.
  • In both cases two of the biggest surprises were the unexpected connections the crisis uncovered, and the extent of the contagion.
British Dictionary definitions for contagion


the transmission of disease from one person to another by direct or indirect contact
a contagious disease
another name for contagium
a corrupting or harmful influence that tends to spread; pollutant
the spreading of an emotional or mental state among a number of people: the contagion of mirth
Word Origin
C14: from Latin contāgiō a touching, infection, from contingere; see contact
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
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Word Origin and History for contagion

late 14c., from Old French contagion, from Latin contagionem (nominative contagio) "a touching, contact, contagion," related to contingere "touch closely" (see contact (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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contagion in Medicine

contagion con·ta·gion (kən-tā'jən)

  1. Disease transmission by direct or indirect contact.

  2. A disease that is or may be transmitted by direct or indirect contact; a contagious disease.

  3. See contagium.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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contagion in Science
  1. The transmission of an infectious disease resulting from direct or indirect contact between individuals or animals.

  2. A disease that is transmitted in this way.

  3. The agent that causes a contagious disease, such as a bacterium or a virus.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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