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[en-sef-uh-lahy-tis] /ɛnˌsɛf əˈlaɪ tɪs/
noun, Pathology
inflammation of the substance of the brain.
Also called encephalitis lethargica
[li-thahr-ji-kuh] /lɪˈθɑr dʒɪ kə/ (Show IPA)
. a form of this condition, caused by a filterable virus and characterized by apathy and abnormal sleepiness; sleeping sickness.
1835-45; encephal- + -itis
Related forms
[en-sef-uh-lit-ik] /ɛnˌsɛf əˈlɪt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
postencephalitic, adjective
pseudoencephalitic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for encephalitis
  • Arboviruses are a leading cause of viral encephalitis throughout the world.
  • Researchers thought that encephalitis caused some subtle neurological deficit that could not be medically detected.
  • Vaccinations also cause encephalitis, brain damage, paralysis and epilepsy.
  • In that instance, two infants developed encephalitis as complications from measles and died.
  • encephalitis can closely follow measles, or it can occur years later during adolescence as a result of a slow virus infection.
  • It can also blind, and it can develop into encephalitis, same as measles.
British Dictionary definitions for encephalitis


/ˌɛnsɛfəˈlaɪtɪs; ˌɛnkɛf-/
inflammation of the brain
Derived Forms
encephalitic (ˌɛnsɛfəˈlɪtɪk) adjective
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 encephalitis

1843, from medical Latin encephalon (from Greek enkephalos "brain," literally "within the head," from en "in" + kephale "head;" see cephalo-) + -itis.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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encephalitis in Medicine

encephalitis en·ceph·a·li·tis (ěn-sěf'ə-lī'tĭs)
n. pl. en·ceph·a·lit·i·des (-lĭt'ĭ-dēz)
Inflammation of the brain. Also called cephalitis.

en·ceph'a·lit'ic (-lĭt'ĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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encephalitis in Science
Inflammation of the brain, usually caused by infection with a virus.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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encephalitis in Culture
encephalitis [(en-sef-uh-leye-tis)]

An inflammation of the brain. Encephalitis may be caused by a virus or lead poisoning, or it may be a complication of another disease, such as influenza or measles. Encephalitis can cause permanent brain damage or death. It is also possible, however, to recover from it completely.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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