AskDefine | Define disease

Dictionary Definition

disease n : an impairment of health or a condition of abnormal functioning

User Contributed Dictionary



From desaise ().


  • /disiːz/, /dəsiːz/
  • Rhymes with: -iːz


  1. An abnormal condition of the body or mind that causes discomfort or dysfunction; distinct from injury insofar as the latter is usually instantaneously acquired.
    The tomato plants had some kind of disease that left their leaves splotchy and fruit withered.



an abnormal condition of the body causing discomfort or dysfunction

Extensive Definition

A disease is an abnormal condition of an organism that impairs bodily functions, associated with specific symptoms and signs.
In human beings,"disease" is often used more broadly to refer to any condition that causes extreme pain, dysfunction, distress, social problems, and/or death to the person afflicted, or similar problems for those in contact with the person. In this broader sense, it sometimes includes injuries, disabilities, disorders, syndromes, infections, isolated symptoms, deviant behaviors, and atypical variations of structure and function, while in other contexts and for other purposes these may be considered distinguishable categories.

Transmission of disease

Some diseases such as influenza are contagious and infectious. Infectious diseases can be transmitted by any of a variety of mechanisms, including inhalation of aerosols produced by coughs and sneezes, by hand to mouth contact with infectious material on surfaces, by bites of insects or other carriers of the disease, and from contaminated water or food (often via faecal contamination), etc. In addition, there are sexually transmitted diseases. In some cases, micro-organisms that are not readily spread from person to person play a role, while other diseases can be prevented or ameliorated with appropriate nutrition or other lifestyle changes. Some diseases such as cancer, heart disease and mental disorders are, in most cases, not considered to be caused by infection, although there are important exceptions. Many diseases (including some cancers, heart disease and mental disorders) have a partially or completely genetic basis (see Genetic disorder) and may thus be transmitted from one generation to another.

Social significance of disease

Living with disease can be very difficult. The identification of a condition as a disease, rather than as simply a variation of human structure or function, can have significant social or economic implications. The controversial recognitions as diseases of post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as "Soldier's heart," "shell shock," and "combat fatigue;" repetitive motion injury or repetitive stress injury (RSI); and Gulf War syndrome has had a number of positive and negative effects on the financial and other responsibilities of governments, corporations and institutions towards individuals, as well as on the individuals themselves. The social implication of viewing aging as a disease could be profound, though this classification is not yet widespread.
A condition may be considered to be a disease in some cultures or eras but not in others. Oppositional-defiant disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and, increasingly, obesity, are conditions considered to be diseases in the United States and Canada today, but were not so-considered decades ago and are not so-considered in some other countries. Lepers were a group of afflicted individuals who were historically shunned and the term "leper" still evokes social stigma. Fear of disease can still be a widespread social phenomena, though not all diseases evoke extreme social stigma.
Sickness confers the social legitimization of certain benefits, such as illness benefits, work avoidance, and being looked after by others. In return, there is an obligation on the sick person to seek treatment and work to become well once more. As a comparison, consider pregnancy, which is not a state interpreted as disease or sickness by the individual. On the other hand, it is considered by the medical community as a condition requiring medical care and by society at large as a condition requiring one's staying at home from work.

Global burden of disease

This chart, compiled in 2002 from the global burden of disease study performed by the World Health Organization shows an overview of the impact of various classifications of disease, segregated by regions with low and high mortality:


External links

disease in Arabic: مرض
disease in Aragonese: Malautía
disease in Asturian: Enfermedá
disease in Guarani: Mba'asy
disease in Aymara: Usu
disease in Min Nan: Pīⁿ
disease in Banyumasan: Penyakit
disease in Breton: Kleñved
disease in Bulgarian: Болест
disease in Catalan: Malaltia
disease in Czech: Nemoc
disease in Welsh: Clefyd
disease in Danish: Sygdom
disease in German: Krankheit
disease in Estonian: Haigus
disease in Spanish: Enfermedad
disease in Esperanto: Malsano
disease in Basque: Gaixotasun
disease in Persian: بیماری
disease in French: Maladie
disease in Western Frisian: Sykte
disease in Irish: Galair
disease in Galician: Doenza
disease in Hindi: रोग
disease in Croatian: Bolest
disease in Ido: Morbo
disease in Indonesian: Penyakit
disease in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Maladia
disease in Icelandic: Sjúkdómur
disease in Italian: Malattia
disease in Hebrew: מחלה
disease in Kazakh: Ауру
disease in Kurdish: Nesaxî
disease in Latin: Morbus
disease in Latvian: Slimība
disease in Lithuanian: Liga
disease in Lingala: Bokɔnɔ
disease in Hungarian: Betegség
disease in Macedonian: Болест
disease in Malagasy: Marary
disease in Malayalam: രോഗം
disease in Malay (macrolanguage): Penyakit
disease in Dutch: Ziekte
disease in Japanese: 病気
disease in Norwegian: Sykdom
disease in Norwegian Nynorsk: Sjukdom
disease in Occitan (post 1500): Malautiá
disease in Pushto: ناروغي
disease in Polish: Choroba
disease in Portuguese: Doença
disease in Romanian: Boală
disease in Quechua: Unquy
disease in Russian: Болезнь
disease in Albanian: Sëmundja
disease in Sicilian: Affizzioni
disease in Simple English: Disease
disease in Slovak: Choroba
disease in Slovenian: Bolezen
disease in Serbian: Болест
disease in Finnish: Sairaus
disease in Swedish: Sjukdom
disease in Tagalog: Karamdaman
disease in Tamil: நோய்
disease in Telugu: వ్యాధి
disease in Thai: โรค
disease in Turkish: Hastalık
disease in Ukrainian: Хвороба
disease in Urdu: مرض
disease in Yiddish: קראנקייט
disease in Chinese: 疾病

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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