Definition of lazaretto in US English:



  • 1An isolation hospital for people with infectious diseases, especially leprosy or plague.

    • ‘Inside the towns, quarantine went into effect, with the sick isolated in prisonlike infirmaries called lazarettos.’
    • ‘A public meeting was held in 1911 in which ‘the citizens of Johannesburg strongly condemn the conditions of the lazaretto [isolation hospital] and call upon the Government to take immediate steps to remedy the present state of affairs’.’
    • ‘I will farther, in the sequel, give the answers of some physicians abroad to a set of questions which I was led to propose to them, by considering that should a lazaretto be erected among us, and this country be ever visited with a scourge so dreadful as the plague, the opinions of eminent physicians experienced in this calamity might be of particular service.’
    • ‘He later turned his attention to the problems of the lazarettos of the East.’
    • ‘In 1785 the reformer turned his attention to plague prevention, examining lazarettos in France, Italy and Turkey - and deliberately experiencing quarantine in Venice.’
    1. 1.1 A building (or ship) used for quarantine.
    2. 1.2 A military or prison hospital.


Mid 16th century: from Italian, diminutive of lazzaro ‘beggar’, from medieval Latin lazarus (see lazar).