1. communicable by infection, as from one person to another or from one part of the body to another: infectious diseases.
  2. causing or communicating infection.
  3. tending to spread from one to another: infectious laughter.
  4. Law. capable of contaminating with illegality; exposing to seizure or forfeiture.
  5. Obsolete. diseased.


  1. (of a disease) capable of being transmittedCompare contagious
  2. (of a disease) caused by microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, or protozoa
  3. causing or transmitting infection
  4. tending or apt to spread, as from one person to anotherinfectious mirth
  5. international law
    1. tainting or capable of tainting with illegality
    2. rendering liable to seizure or forfeiture

“catching, having the quality of spreading from person to person,” 1540s of diseases, 1610s of emotions, actions, etc.; see infect + -ous.


  1. Capable of causing infection.
  2. Caused by or capable of being transmitted by infection.
  3. Caused by a pathogenic microorganism or agent.

  1. Capable of causing infection. See Note at contagious.

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