infectious 1 Infectious, contagious, communicable, catchingin their basic use as applied to diseases are distinguishable though closely similar in meaning.
Infectious designates a disease resulting from the invasion of and multiplication in the body by germs (as bacteria, protozoans, or viruses) that produce toxins or destroy or injure tissues.
Contagious more precisely designates an infectious disease caused by receiving living germs directly from a person afflicted with it or by contact with a secretion of his or some object he has touched.
Communicable in this relation is nearly equivalent to infectious, but it emphasizes the transmissibility of the disease rather than the method by which it is acquired.
Catching, a less formal term, is close in meaning to contagious, but it implies even more the dangers of contact.
Infectious, contagious, and catching all have extended use but in such use the fine distinctions exhibited in their technical senses are not carried over with the result that they are nearly exact synonyms meaning rapidly imparted to others; thus, one may speak of contagious, or infectious, enthusiasm or of enthusiasm that is catching

what a bad temper! I hope it's not catching


fear is exceedingly infectious: children catch it from their elders even when their elders are not aware of having shown it— Russell

Analogous words: toxic, mephitic, pestilent, pestilential, virulent, *poisonous
2 Infectious, infective as applied to agents related to the causing of disease may be interchangeable and then mean capable of infecting or tending to infect.
Infectious, however, is more often restricted to the technical and figurative senses expounded in the preceding article.
Infective may be distinctively applied to matter and means potentially infectious

an infective secretion


an infective wart

In extended use it preserves the implication of corruption, strong in infect but often absent in infectious

infective doctrines


New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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  • infectious — index contagious, harmful, pestilent Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • infectious — catching, having the quality of spreading from person to person, 1540s of diseases, 1610s of emotions, actions, etc.; see INFECT (Cf. infect) + OUS (Cf. ous) …   Etymology dictionary

  • infectious — see contagious …   Modern English usage

  • infectious — ► ADJECTIVE 1) (of a disease or disease causing organism) liable to be transmitted through the environment. 2) liable to spread infection. 3) likely to spread to or influence others. DERIVATIVES infectiously adverb infectiousness noun …   English terms dictionary

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  • infectious — in|fec|tious [ ın fekʃəs ] adjective * 1. ) an infectious disease is one that can spread from one person to another: The condition is highly infectious. a ) used about a person or animal that has an infectious disease: The animals were still… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • infectious */ — UK [ɪnˈfekʃəs] / US adjective 1) a) an infectious disease is one that can spread from one person to another The condition is highly infectious. b) used about a person or animal that has an infectious disease The animals were still infectious when …   English dictionary

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