When you and your friends hang out together, you call it a party. When symptoms of an illness hang out together, they call it a syndrome. If you receive an invitation, politely decline.

Syndrome comes from a Greek word that combines the root “to run” (dramein) with the prefix “together” (sun-). When many or all of the symptoms for a disease “run together,” that's a syndrome. You can also use syndrome in a figurative way to describe a type or pattern of behavior. If you have the “I'll do it tomorrow” syndrome, you put off doing a lot of things. At least you got around to reading about syndrome today.

Definitions of syndrome
  1. noun
    a pattern of symptoms indicative of some disease
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    (psychiatry) an abnormal absorption with the self; marked by communication disorders and short attention span and inability to treat others as people
    ADD, ADHD, MBD, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, hyperkinetic syndrome, minimal brain damage, minimal brain dysfunction
    a condition (mostly in boys) characterized by behavioral and learning disorders
    Horner's syndrome
    a pattern of symptoms occurring as a result of damage to nerves in the cervical region of the spine (drooping eyelids and constricted pupils and absence of facial sweating)
    cervical disc syndrome, cervical root syndrome
    an abnormal condition resulting from compression of spinal nerve roots in the neck region; involves neck pains and muscular weakness and paresthesia
    Chinese restaurant syndrome
    headache and tingling or burning feelings and sweating caused by eating food that contains monosodium glutamate
    Conn's syndrome
    disturbances in saltwater balance and symptoms of weakness and muscular cramps and twitching and convulsions and sometimes paralysis; usually caused by a benign tumor of the cortex of the adrenal gland that leads to excess secretion of aldosterone
    FAS, fetal alcohol syndrome
    a congenital medical condition in which body deformation occurs or facial development or mental ability is impaired because the mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy
    Gulf War syndrome, Persian Gulf illness
    a medical condition of uncertain origin that affected many veterans of the 1991 Gulf War; characterized by fatigue and headache and dizziness and nausea and rashes and joint pain and respiratory disorders
    Klinefelter syndrome, Klinefelter's syndrome, XXY-syndrome
    syndrome in males that is characterized by small testes and long legs and enlarged breasts and reduced sperm production and mental retardation; a genetic defect in which an extra X chromosome (XXY) is present in the male
    malabsorption syndrome
    a pattern of symptoms including loss of appetite and bloating and weight loss and muscle pain and steatorrhea; associated with celiac disease and sprue and cystic fibrosis
    Munchausen syndrome, Munchausen's syndrome
    syndrome consisting of feigning acute and dramatic illness for which no clinical evidence is ever found
    nephrosis, nephrotic syndrome
    a syndrome characterized by edema and large amounts of protein in the urine and usually increased blood cholesterol; usually associated with glomerulonephritis or with a complication of various systemic diseases
    Noonan's syndrome
    syndrome seen only in males; marked by short stature and lowset ears and subnormal fertility
    phantom limb syndrome
    syndrome consisting of discomfort or pain in a limb that has been amputated
    PMS, premenstrual syndrome
    a syndrome that occurs in many women from 2 to 14 days before the onset of menstruation
    radiation, radiation sickness, radiation syndrome
    syndrome resulting from exposure to ionizing radiation (e.g., exposure to radioactive chemicals or to nuclear explosions); low doses cause diarrhea and nausea and vomiting and sometimes loss of hair; greater exposure can cause sterility and cataracts and some forms of cancer and other diseases; severe exposure can cause death within hours
    Ramsay Hunt syndrome
    syndrome resulting from infection by the herpes varicella zoster virus; characterized by vertigo and pain in the ears and facial nerve paralysis and sometimes hearing loss
    Reiter's disease, Reiter's syndrome
    an inflammatory syndrome (etiology unknown) predominantly in males; characterized by arthritis and conjunctivitis and urethritis
    Ekbom syndrome, restless legs, restless legs syndrome
    feeling of uneasiness and restlessness in the legs after going to bed (sometimes causing insomnia); may be relieved temporarily by walking or moving the legs
    Reye's syndrome
    acquired encephalopathy following acute viral infections (especially influenza or chicken pox) in young children; characterized by fever, vomiting, disorientation, coma, and fatty infiltration of the liver
    scalenus syndrome
    discomfort and vascular symptoms and loss of sensation in a shoulder and arm; caused by a scalene muscle compressing the subclavian artery and part of the brachial plexus
    apyretic tetanus, intermittent cramp, intermittent tetanus, tetanilla, tetany
    clinical neurological syndrome characterized by muscular twitching and cramps and (when severe) seizures; associated with calcium deficiency (hypoparathyroidism) or vitamin D deficiency or alkalosis
    thoracic outlet syndrome
    tingling sensations in the fingers; caused by compression on a nerve supplying the arm
    Tietze's syndrome
    syndrome characterized by swelling of rib cartilage (causing pain)
    Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, Tourette's syndrome
    neurological disorder characterized by facial grimaces and tics and movements of the upper body and grunts and shouts and coprolalia
    Fallot's syndrome, Fallot's tetralogy, tetralogy of Fallot
    a congenital heart defect producing cyanosis; characterized by four symptoms: pulmonary stenosis and ventricular septal defect and malposition of the aorta over both ventricles and hypertrophy of the right ventricle
    TSS, toxic shock, toxic shock syndrome
    syndrome resulting from a serious acute (sometimes fatal) infection associated with the presence of staphylococcus; characterized by fever and diarrhea and nausea and diffuse erythema and shock; occurs especially in menstruating women using highly absorbent tampons
    Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome
    syndrome associated with bacterial meningitis; marked by sudden high fever and skin discoloration and petechiae with hemorrhage into the adrenal glands and cardiovascular collapse
    Williams syndrome
    a rare congenital disorder associated with deletion of genetic material in chromosome 7; characterized by mental deficiency and some growth deficiency and elfin faces but an overly social personality and a remarkable gift for vocabulary
    Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
    syndrome consisting of intractable peptic ulceration with gastric hypersecretion and hyperacidity
    infantile autism
    a rare but serious syndrome of childhood characterized by withdrawal and lack of social responsiveness or interest in others and serious linguistic deficits
    type of:
    (medicine) any sensation or change in bodily function that is experienced by a patient and is associated with a particular disease
  2. noun
    a complex of concurrent things
    “every word has a syndrome of meanings”
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    type of:
    complex, composite
    a conceptual whole made up of complicated and related parts
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