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Permanent link for this word: nosophobia


Pronunciation Sound Clip

This week's theme: Fear and desire

nosophobia (nos-uh-FO-bee-uh) noun

An irrational fear of contracting diseases.

[From Greek nosos (disease) + -phobia (fear).]

A few related words are nosology (the branch of medical science dealing with classification of diseases) and nosocomial (hospital-acquired, as an infection). The word nostrum is unrelated -- it comes from Latin nostrum (ours), from the practice of peddlers calling the drug "our" drug.

"By mid-March, one could almost palpate the national nosophobia, perhaps best illustrated by the wire service report of a New York mother who, hearing on the news one morning last week that apples cause cancer, called the state police to intercept her child's school bus to remove the allegedly offensive fruit from the lunch box."
Elizabeth M. Whelan; A Morbid Fear of Illness Makes America Trash Good Food and Common Sense; The Los Angeles Times; Mar 20, 1989.


One of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence. -Charles A. Beard, historian (1874-1948)

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