Strep is a bacterium that can make you sick. If your throat is really sore and you're feeling feverish, you just might have strep throat — a condition caused by the strep bacterium.
Strep is short for streptococcus, and because it's a bacterium, it can usually be treated with antibiotics. As a noun, the word refers to the microorganism itself, and when strep is an adjective, it describes conditions that are caused by the bacteria, like strep throat or strep pneumonia. An Austrian doctor coined the word streptococcus in the 1870s, from strepto-, "twisted" in Latin, and cocco-, "seed."
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