Definition of leprosy in US English:



  • A contagious disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves, causing discoloration and lumps on the skin and, in severe cases, disfigurement and deformities. Leprosy is now mainly confined to tropical Africa and Asia.

    Leprosy is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, which is Gram-positive, nonmotile, and acid-fast

    Also called Hansen's disease
    • ‘Borderline leprosy shows an intermediate appearance between the tuberculoid and lepromatous types.’
    • ‘Programmes to control leprosy, hepatitis and dengue fever are vividly shown.’
    • ‘Some neighbours believed she had leprosy, a disease that brings immediate isolation in Hindu society.’
    • ‘In 1879, Albert Neisser, one of Robert Koch's pupils, visited Bergen to study leprosy.’
    • ‘This may happen due to injuries, infections, or even chronic problems like rheumatoid arthritis and leprosy.’
    • ‘Residents lived on meagre rations and in squalor, suffering epidemics of leprosy and other contagious diseases.’
    • ‘It now looks as if leprosy originated in East Africa, and Europeans and North Africans took it to West Africa.’
    • ‘Diseases like leprosy, Guinea worm and river blindness are endemic.’
    • ‘On the other hand, smallpox has been eradicated, sleeping sickness has become rare, and polio and leprosy are under control.’
    • ‘While patients with tuberculoid leprosy have only a few organisms, those with lepromatous leprosy have abundant bacteria.’
    • ‘Both Danielssen and Boeck believed that leprosy was a hereditary disease.’
    • ‘Cholera, plague, smallpox, malaria, kalaazar, leprosy and venereal diseases are the others considered.’
    • ‘Infections such as typhoid, malaria and even leprosy were among the illnesses people picked up while on holiday.’
    • ‘However, despite drug treatment, the number of new cases of leprosy detected each year has stayed the same or risen.’
    • ‘The most severe form of leprosy produces large disfiguring nodules, or lumps.’
    • ‘Historically, anxiety about the loss of the nose is tied to stigmatizing diseases - leprosy and syphilis.’
    • ‘They prefer their disease to be called Hansen's disease not leprosy, and the disease can be easily cured.’
    • ‘In those days, people used to think I could cure them of laryngitis, leprosy or haemophilia just by touching them with my horn.’
    • ‘In this way, they spread disease, plague, leprosy, typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, and so on.’
    • ‘The eating of pork has produced leprosy and cancerous tumors.’


Mid 16th century (superseding Middle English lepry): from leprous + -y.