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[path-uh-juh n, ‐jen] /ˈpæθ ə dʒən, ‐ˌdʒɛn/
any disease-producing agent, especially a virus, bacterium, or other microorganism.
Origin of pathogen
1940-45; patho- + -gen
Related forms
antipathogen, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pathogens
  • Conventional poultry farms use antibiotics extensively, which contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
  • By contrast, testing for pathogens deals only with cases as they become apparent in transfusion patients.
  • The altered strain was rendered avirulent, because the immune system was able to eliminate the exposed pathogens.
  • There's also the threat of pathogens that could thrive in crowded pens and escape to harm natural fish populations.
  • As such, it will contain many of the same pathogens as the human source contains.
  • If you plan to be in less-developed areas, more serious pathogens may be lurking around.
  • If pathogens can be designed by laptop, vaccines can be, too.
  • Ultraviolet radiation of the sun kills pathogens that cause diarrhea.
  • They also possess mutations in genes linked to fighting off pathogens and repairing toxin damage.
  • The canine influenza virus can cause respiratory disease by itself or along with other canine respiratory pathogens.
British Dictionary definitions for pathogens


any agent that can cause disease
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 pathogens



1880, a back-formation from pathogenic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pathogens in Medicine

pathogen path·o·gen (pāth'ə-jən)
An agent that causes disease, especially a living microorganism such as a bacterium, virus, or fungus.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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pathogens in Science
An agent that causes infection or disease, especially a microorganism, such as a bacterium or protozoan, or a virus. See Note at germ.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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pathogens in Culture
pathogen [(path-uh-juhn)]

A disease-causing agent. Microorganisms, viruses, and toxins are examples of pathogens.

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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