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

n an incident in which an infectious disease is transmitted

infection, transmission
Type of:
a single distinct event

n any disease easily transmitted by contact

contagious disease
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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

n the communication of an attitude or emotional state among a number of people

“a contagion of mirth”
Type of:
something that is communicated by or to or between people or groups

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