contagious, infectious

These words have precise scientific meanings, but in everyday usage they are often confused. As for illness, a contagious disease is one communicated or transferred by contact; an infectious disease is indirectly communicated by such agencies as water and air. An infectious disease is not necessarily contagious. Contagious emphasizes the speed with which contagion (contact, communication, medium) spreads: "Contagious fear ran through the audience." Infectious suggests the powerful or irresistible quality of the source of contagion: "Mark Twain's infectious humor stimulated prolonged laughter and applause."

Dictionary of problem words and expressions. . 1975.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • contagious, infectious —  Diseases spread by contact are contagious.  Those spread by air and water are infectious. Used figuratively ( contagious laughter, infectious enthusiasm ), either is fine …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • contagious, infectious —    Diseases spread by contact are contagious. Those spread by air and water are infectious. Used figuratively ( contagious laughter, infectious enthusiasm ), either is fine …   Dictionary of troublesome word

  • Contagious — Con*ta gious, a. [L. contagiosus: cf. F. contagieux.] 1. (Med.) Communicable by contact, by a virus, or by a bodily exhalation; catching; as, a contagious disease. [1913 Webster] 2. Conveying or generating disease; pestilential; poisonous; as,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • contagious — *infectious, communicable, catching Analogous words: toxic, pestilential, pestilent, virulent, mephitic, mias mic (see POISONOUS) …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Contagious disease — A contagious disease is a subset category of infectious diseases (or communicable diseases), which are easily transmitted by physical contact (hence the name origin) with the person suffering the disease, or by their secretions or objects touched …   Wikipedia

  • contagious — contagiously, adv. contagiousness, contagiosity /keuhn tay jee os i tee/, n. /keuhn tay jeuhs/, adj. 1. capable of being transmitted by bodily contact with an infected person or object: contagious diseases. 2. carrying or spreading a contagious… …   Universalium

  • contagious — con•ta•gious [[t]kənˈteɪ dʒəs[/t]] adj. 1) pat capable of being transmitted by bodily contact with an infected person or object: contagious diseases[/ex] 2) pat carrying or spreading a contagious disease 3) tending to spread from person to person …   From formal English to slang

  • infectious — [[t]ɪnfe̱kʃəs[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED A disease that is infectious can be caught by being near a person who has it. Compare contagious. ...infectious diseases such as measles... These viruses affect children and are highly infectious. 2) ADJ GRADED If …   English dictionary

  • infectious — See contagious. See contagious, infectious …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • contagious — See contagious, infectious …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

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