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[simp-tuh m] /ˈsɪmp təm/
any phenomenon or circumstance accompanying something and serving as evidence of it.
a sign or indication of something.
Pathology. a phenomenon that arises from and accompanies a particular disease or disorder and serves as an indication of it.
Origin of symptom
1350-1400; Middle English < Late Latin symptōma < Greek sýmptōma occurrence, that which falls together with something, equivalent to sym- sym- + ptō- (variant stem of píptein to fall) + -ma noun suffix of result
Related forms
presymptom, noun
2. signal, token, mark. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for symptom
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It seemed for a moment as if the contagion might break out in the audience, but the symptom passed.

    Bonaventure George Washington Cable
  • Not a symptom of disobedience during the rest of the voyage.

  • Perhaps instead of being angry she ought to welcome it as a symptom of the re-creation she longed for.

    The Garden Of Allah Robert Hichens
  • And what is now the disease of which the lack of prayer is the symptom?

  • War is seen to be but a symptom, a horrible outbreak of malignant forces, which we have nurtured and harboured in times of peace.

    Mountain Meditations L. Lind-af-Hageby
British Dictionary definitions for symptom


(med) any sensation or change in bodily function experienced by a patient that is associated with a particular disease Compare sign (sense 9)
any phenomenon or circumstance accompanying something and regarded as evidence of its existence; indication
Derived Forms
symptomless, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin symptōma, from Greek sumptōma chance, from sumpiptein to occur, from syn- + piptein to fall
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 symptom

1540s, earlier sinthoma (late 14c.), from Medieval Latin sinthoma "symptom of a disease," from Late Latin symptoma, from Greek symptoma (genitive symptomatos) "a happening, accident, disease," from stem of sympiptein "to befall," from syn- "together" (see syn-) + piptein "to fall," from PIE *pi-pt-, reduplicated form of root *pet- "to rush; to fly" (see petition (n.)). Spelling altered in English by influence of Middle French and Late Latin forms. Symptomatic in general sense of "indicative (of)" is from 1751.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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symptom in Medicine

symptom symp·tom (sĭm'təm, sĭmp'-)
An indication of disorder or disease, especially when experienced by an individual as a change from normal function, sensation, or appearance. Also called sign.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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symptom in Science
A subjective indication of a disorder or disease, such as pain, nausea or weakness. Symptoms may be accompanied by objective signs of disease such as abnormal laboratory test results or findings during a physical examination. Compare sign.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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