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anthrax Syllabification: an·thrax
Pronunciation: /ˈanˌTHraks/

Definition of anthrax in English:


A notifiable bacterial disease of sheep and cattle, typically affecting the skin and lungs. It can be transmitted to humans, causing severe skin ulceration or a form of pneumonia (also called wool-sorter’s disease).
Example sentences
  • An early suspicion that anthrax might have been the cause of the infection has been discounted.
  • In New York five people are confirmed to have been exposed to the bacterium, of whom two have developed anthrax.
  • Any doctor could learn as much about anthrax through reading a newspaper as they could through reading a medical text.


Late Middle English: Latin, 'carbuncle' (the earliest sense in English), from Greek anthrax, anthrak- 'coal, carbuncle', with reference to the skin ulceration in humans.

  • anthracite from late 16th century:

    Originally an anthracite was a gem described by Pliny as resembling coals. The word is from Greek anthrakitēs, from anthrax, anthrak- ‘coal’ or ‘carbuncle’ (meaning both a red gem like a glowing coal, and a swelling that looks like one). The same word is the source of the disease anthrax (Late Middle English) which causes black lesions in humans. Carbuncle (Middle English) itself keeps the same image, coming from Latin carbunculus ‘small coal’ from carbo ‘coal, charcoal’, the source of words such as carbon (late 18th century).

Definition of anthrax in:
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