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diphtheria Line breaks: diph|theria
Pronunciation: /dɪfˈθɪərɪə/

Definition of diphtheria in English:


[mass noun]
An acute and highly contagious bacterial disease causing inflammation of the mucous membranes, formation of a false membrane in the throat which hinders breathing and swallowing, and potentially fatal heart and nerve damage by a bacterial toxin in the blood. It is now rare in developed countries owing to immunization.
Example sentences
  • Epidemics such as influenza, pneumonia, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and typhoid took a deadly toll.
  • Pasteur went on to discover vaccinations for chicken pox, cholera, diphtheria, anthrax and rabies.
  • Possible reactions to immunisation against diphtheria and tetanus and pertussis include fever, vomiting, and listlessness.


Mid 19th century: modern Latin, from French diphthérie (earlier diphthérite), from Greek diphthera 'skin, hide'.


In the past diphtheria was pronounced with an f sound representing the two letters ph (as in telephone, sulphur, and other ph words derived from Greek). In recent years the pronunciation has shifted and today the most common pronunciation, no longer incorrect in standard English, is with a p sound. A very similar shift has taken place with the word diphthong, which is now also widely pronounced with a p rather than an f sound.



Pronunciation: /dɪfˈθɪərɪəl/
Example sentences
  • Although serious cases by skin infection are rare, it may serve as a source of diphtherial infection for spread of the organisms.
  • Corynebacterium diphtheriae is the sole member primarily pathogenic for man by virtue of its capacity to produce diphtherial exotoxin.
  • When Freundt adjuvant was used with diphtherial anatoxin (as vaccine antigen) maximum titer of induced antibodies was 1: 500 at injection introduction of vaccine in accordance with Pasteur scheme.


Pronunciation: /dɪfθəˈrɪtɪk/
Example sentences
  • ‘In most of these occurrences, the diphtheritic form of the disease, which attacks the eyes, throats, and trachea, results in high mortality,’ Tripathy says.
  • In the diphtheritic form, there are raised, yellow plaques on the mucus membranes of the mouth and throat.
  • The results of the study suggest that diphtheritic toxin is not implicated in CNS lesions.

Words that rhyme with diphtheria

Algeria, anterior, bacteria, Bashkiria, cafeteria, criteria, cryptomeria, exterior, hysteria, Iberia, inferior, interior, Liberia, listeria, Nigeria, posterior, Siberia, superior, ulterior, wisteria

Definition of diphtheria in:

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