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[kuh n-tey-juh s] /kənˈteɪ dʒəs/

capable of being transmitted by bodily contact with an infected person or object:
contagious diseases.
carrying or spreading a contagious disease.
tending to spread from person to person:
contagious laughter.
(of a disease) capable of being passed on by direct contact with a diseased individual or by handling clothing, etc, contaminated with the causative agent Compare infectious
(of an organism) harbouring or spreading the causative agent of a transmissible disease
causing or likely to cause the same reaction or emotion in several people; catching; infectious: her laughter was contagious

late 14c., from Old French contagieus (Modern French contagieux), from Late Latin contagiosus, from Latin contagio (see contact (n.)).

contagious con·ta·gious (kən-tā’jəs)

con·ta’gious·ness n.

Our Living Language : A contagious disease is one that can be transmitted from one living being to another through direct or indirect contact. Thus the flu, which can be transmitted by coughing, and cholera, which is often acquired by drinking contaminated water, are contagious diseases. Although infectious is also used to refer to such diseases, it has a slightly different meaning in that it refers to diseases caused by infectious agents—agents such as viruses and bacteria that are not normally present in the body and can cause an infection. While the notion of contagiousness goes back to ancient times, the idea of infectious diseases is more modern, coming from the germ theory of disease, which was not proposed until the later nineteenth century. Contagious and infectious are also used to refer to people who have communicable diseases at a stage at which transmission to others is likely.


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