[ lep-ruh-see ]
/ ˈlɛp rə si /

noun Pathology.

a chronic, mildly infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, affecting the peripheral nervous system, skin, and nasal mucosa and variously characterized by ulcerations, tubercular nodules, and loss of sensation that sometimes leads to traumatic amputation of the anesthetized part.
Also called Hansen's disease.

Origin of leprosy

1525–35; perhaps < Medieval Latin leprōsia (recorded only as synonym for leprosarium) < Greek léprōs(is) leprosy + -ia -y3


lep·rot·ic [le-prot-ik] /lɛˈprɒt ɪk/, adjective an·ti·lep·ro·sy, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for leprosy

/ (ˈlɛprəsɪ) /


pathol a chronic infectious disease occurring mainly in tropical and subtropical regions, characterized by the formation of painful inflamed nodules beneath the skin and disfigurement and wasting of affected parts, caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium leprae Also called: Hansen's disease

Word Origin for leprosy

C16: from leprous + -y ³

Medical definitions for leprosy

[ lĕprə-sē ]


A chronic, mildly contagious granulomatous disease of tropical and subtropical regions, caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium leprae, characterized by ulcers of the skin, bone, and viscera and leading to loss of sensation, paralysis, gangrene, and deformation. It occurs in two principal types: lepromatous and tuberculoid. Hansen's disease

Other words from leprosy

leprous (lĕprəs) null adj.

Scientific definitions for leprosy

[ lĕprə-sē ]

A slowly progressive, chronic infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, that damages nerves, skin, and mucous membranes, and can lead to loss of sensation, paralysis, gangrene, and deformity if untreated.

Cultural definitions for leprosy

[ (lep-ruh-see) ]

A chronic and infectious disease, characterized by patches of altered skin and nerve tissue (lesions) that gradually spread to cause muscle weakness, deformities, and paralysis. Some forms of antibiotics are now used to treat this disease, and plastic surgery can help correct the deformities it causes. Also called Hansen's disease.

notes for leprosy

Leprosy has been well known since ancient times, when widespread fear of those afflicted with the disease caused them to be treated as outcasts. Today, the term leper is often used to refer to a person excluded from society.