Have you ever noticed how when one person yawns, the people around him tend to do so as well? This phenomenon can be described as a contagion, the spreading of an emotional or mental state (in this case, fatigue).

Contagion can apply not only to the spread of emotions but also to the spread of disease. If you’re feeling sick, you should stay home to reduce the risk of contagion. (Be sure to use the word contagion when you call in sick; it’s a great opportunity to impress people with your vocabulary.) Contagion is akin to the word contagious, an adjective describing things that spread from person to person, like certain diseases... and yawning.

Definitions of contagion
  1. noun
    an incident in which an infectious disease is transmitted
    synonyms: infection, transmission
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    type of:
    a single distinct event
  2. noun
    any disease easily transmitted by contact
    synonyms: contagious disease
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    show 19 types...
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    flu, grippe, influenza
    an acute febrile highly contagious viral disease
    measles, morbilli, rubeola
    an acute and highly contagious viral disease marked by distinct red spots followed by a rash; occurs primarily in children
    acute contagious infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae; marked by the formation of a false membrane in the throat and other air passages causing difficulty in breathing
    scarlatina, scarlet fever
    an acute communicable disease (usually in children) characterized by fever and a red rash
    a contagious disease characterized by purulent skin eruptions that may leave pock marks
    Vincent's angina, Vincent's infection, trench mouth
    an acute communicable infection of the respiratory tract and mouth marked by ulceration of the mucous membrane
    Cupid's disease, Cupid's itch, STD, VD, Venus's curse, dose, sexually transmitted disease, social disease, venereal disease, venereal infection
    a communicable infection transmitted by sexual intercourse or genital contact
    Asian influenza, Asiatic flu
    influenza caused by the Asian virus that was first isolated in 1957
    swine flu, swine influenza
    an acute and highly contagious respiratory disease of swine caused by the orthomyxovirus thought to be the same virus that caused the 1918 influenza pandemic
    German measles, epidemic roseola, rubella, three-day measles
    a contagious viral disease that is a milder form of measles lasting three or four days; can be damaging to a fetus during the first trimester
    smallpox, variola, variola major
    a highly contagious viral disease characterized by fever and weakness and skin eruption with pustules that form scabs that slough off leaving scars
    genital herpes, herpes genitalis
    an infection caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) that is usually transmitted by sexual contact; marked by recurrent attacks of painful eruptions on the skin and mucous membranes of the genital area
    chickenpox, varicella
    an acute contagious disease caused by herpes varicella zoster virus; causes a rash of vesicles on the face and body
    clap, gonorrhea, gonorrhoea
    a common venereal disease caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae; symptoms are painful urination and pain around the urethra
    granuloma inguinale, granuloma venereum
    a venereal disease caused by a bacterium of the genus Calymmatobacterium; characterized by a pimply rash of the skin in the genital and groin region
    lues, lues venerea, pox, syph, syphilis
    a common venereal disease caused by the treponema pallidum spirochete; symptoms change through progressive stages; can be congenital (transmitted through the placenta)
    LGV, lymphogranuloma venereum, lymphopathia venereum
    infectious disease caused by a species of chlamydia bacterium; transmitted by sexual contact; characterized by genital lesions and swelling of lymph nodes in the groin
    a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria of the genus Chlamydia
    cowpox, vaccinia
    a viral disease of cattle causing a mild skin disease affecting the udder; formerly used to inoculate humans against smallpox
    type of:
    communicable disease
    a disease that can be communicated from one person to another
  3. noun
    the communication of an attitude or emotional state among a number of people
    “a contagion of mirth”
    synonyms: infection
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    type of:
    something that is communicated by or to or between people or groups
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