Definition of stigma in US English:



  • 1A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

    ‘the stigma of having gone to prison will always be with me’
    ‘debt has lost its stigma and is now a part of everyday life’
    • ‘The stigma of illegitimacy is getting less strong.’
    • ‘They said the stigma of mental illness had declined and that empathy was high.’
    • ‘She hoped the report would raise awareness and begin to reduce the stigma surrounding the children.’
    • ‘Additionally it reinforces the negative stigmas of mental illness by manifesting them physically.’
    • ‘The perceived stigma of being a domestic violence victim is also a factor.’
    • ‘They all found it hard to shake the stigma of failure.’
    • ‘You'd eliminate the vote splitting and erase the stigma surrounding both parties.’
    • ‘There is a negative stigma attached to some of these government housing projects.’
    • ‘Flynn says that she and the team were determined to remove the stigma attached to working away from the office.’
    • ‘The latter approach could help diminish the social stigma associated with the disabled in Russia, she said.’
    • ‘And that has done more than anything else to reduce the stigma of this disease in many countries.’
    • ‘Diseases of the brain have always carried a social and cultural stigma.’
    • ‘The only effective way to avoid the stigma altogether is to embrace abstinence prior to marriage.’
    • ‘There is no longer any social stigma attached to soft drug use, and the statistics bear this out.’
    • ‘Although gay men and lesbians face similar societal stigma, their respective experiences are very different.’
    • ‘The aim is to remove the social stigma attached to the disease.’
    • ‘Information was not available on stress or on the stigma of single motherhood referred to in other studies.’
    • ‘For generations, people who suffer with mental illnesses have had to endure a terrible stigma.’
    • ‘The stigma of failure does not apply to such men.’
    • ‘Nurses who have substance abuse problems, therefore, carry the stigma associated with this breach in professionalism.’
    shame, disgrace, dishonour
    View synonyms
  • 2stigmata(in Christian tradition) marks corresponding to those left on Jesus’ body by the Crucifixion, said to have been impressed by divine favor on the bodies of St. Francis of Assisi and others.

    • ‘Similarly, his image of St. Francis conveys the saint's swooning spirituality with all the appropriate trappings - halo, monastic robe, stigmata and the animals to which he preached.’
    • ‘Padre Pio, the priest who suffered from stigmata comparable to those suffered by Jesus Christ in His Crucifixion, became an object of special identification to that little girl's family.’
    • ‘The individuals who experienced stigmata were those who prayed deeply and linked themselves apathetically to the suffering of mankind.’
    • ‘On September 20, 1918 five wounds, which he claimed were sent from God as the stigmata of Christ, appeared on his body, which if genuine, made him the first and only stigmatized priest in the history of Roman Church.’
    • ‘Like her medieval predecessors, she received the stigmata, the mark of Christ's wounds.’
    • ‘The two scenes of the third act - the gift of the stigmata and the saint's death and resurrection - summarize the themes of the first two acts and complete their arguments.’
    • ‘Impossible to hide, Padre Pio's stigmata put him in the public eye and made him a center of controversy.’
    • ‘Furthermore, mystical experience has no intrinsic or necessary connection to such things as raptures, ecstasies, locutions, stigmata, elevations and the other things that appear in mystical literature.’
    • ‘Johnson's film also contains at least one decent surprise, a nice line in black humour, and looks very stylish throughout, while being laden with religious imagery - referring to the crucifixion and the stigmata on several occasions.’
    • ‘She first exhibited stigmata during Easter of 1992, having previously received visions of Jesus.’
    • ‘Third, Martin starts literally from the back of the book - with Francis's death, blindness, and stigmata coming first.’
    • ‘He collected accounts of frogs and other strange objects raining from the sky, UFOs, ghosts, spontaneous human combustion, the stigmata, psychic abilities, etc.’
    • ‘While dressing for the performance of their ‘mystery’, the monks playing the Madwoman, the Ferryman and the Traveller are daubed with Christ's stigmata.’
    • ‘Why do you think you've been experiencing the stigmata?’
    • ‘He had long ago sought out and met Father Pio de Pietraicina, the Italian Capuchin monk who suffered the stigmata of Christ's crucifixion.’
    • ‘In it Hansen presents a delicately balanced narrative of a teenaged postulant who receives the stigmata, to the consternation and even embarrassment of her religious community.’
    • ‘Then there is light, and a discarded shroud, and a risen Christ bearing the stigmata leaves the tomb.’
    • ‘If asked how it is possible for her to have the stigmata and be a pious fraud, the answer is that she does not truly suffer inexplicable wounds.’
    • ‘These are joined by meditations on the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador, the Eucharist, the prayer Anima Christi, and the stigmata.’
    • ‘Religious portraits of stigmata are not accurate when they show wounds in the palm of the hands.’
  • 3Medicine
    A visible sign or characteristic of a disease.

    • ‘The patient did not have stigmata of other autoimmune diseases, and her blood glucose level was within normal limits.’
    • ‘There were no stigmata of liver disease or oral telangiectasias.’
    • ‘On examination, she was not icteric, and there were no stigmata of chronic liver disease.’
    • ‘Liver function test results were within normal limits, and no other stigmata of alcoholic liver disease were present.’
    1. 3.1 A mark or spot on the skin.
      • ‘The data in this prospective study reveal that simple midline dimples are the most common dorsal cutaneous stigmata in neonates and pose an extremely low risk for sacral dysraphism.’
  • 4Botany
    (in a flower) the part of a pistil that receives the pollen during pollination.

    • ‘Anthers from one flower were removed and stroked over the stigmas of the other flower.’
    • ‘Stigmas of flowers in all treatments were pollinated at the female phase.’
    • ‘A given pollen grain blowing in the wind is thus unlikely to land on a receptive stigma.’
    • ‘Cotton swabs were used to apply the pollen to receptive stigmas on a mother plant.’
    • ‘Pollinations were performed in June by applying the cotton stick loaded with pollen on the receptive stigmas.’


Late 16th century (denoting a mark made by pricking or branding): via Latin from Greek stigma ‘a mark made by a pointed instrument, a dot’; related to stick.