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From Old French contagieus, from Late Latin contagiosus, from contagio.



contagious (comparative more contagious, superlative most contagious)

  1. (of a disease) Easily transmitted to others.
    Antonyms: noncontagious, noncommunicable, nontransmissible
    Hypernyms: infectious, communicable, transmissible, spreadable, catching
    Last year's flu strain was so contagious that everybody in town got sick!
  2. (figurative) Easily passed on to others.
    Synonyms: infectious, spreadable
    contagious enthusiasm; infectious laughter
    Wearing jeans was a contagious fad at that time.
    • 1837, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], “Success”, in Ethel Churchill: Or, The Two Brides. [], volume II, London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, page 75:
      The taverns of our ancestors would ill bear contrasting with the clubs of to-day; but many a gay midnight was past in the former:—midnights, whose mirth has descended even to us; half the jests, whose gaiety is still contagious; half the epigrams, whose point is yet felt, were born of those brief and brilliant hours.
    • 2000, Damon Gough (lyrics and music), “Magic in the Air”, in The Hour of Bewilderbeast, performed by Badly Drawn Boy:
      Cause love is contagious, when it's alright / Love is contagious, when it's alright / Love is alright
  3. (of a person) Having a disease that can be transmitted to another person.
    They were highly contagious, spreading bacteria to other people.


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