- A highly unpleasant or unhealthy smell or vapor.
- An oppressive or unpleasant atmosphere which surrounds or emanates from something.
“Implementing a daily meditation break has helped me break out of the miasma of some unpleasant habits.”
“The miasma following the sewage truck made us all cover our mouths and noses.”
“Several students left food in their lockers over the break, which created quite a miasma in the hallway when we returned.”
Greek, mid-17th century
Why this word?
The original meaning of “miasma” referred to actual clouds of toxic fumes — its Greek root means “pollute.” From the times of ancient Greece to as late as the mid-19th century, the miasma theory was an accepted medical belief that some illnesses were caused by a vaporous, disease-bearing cloud. Eventually, germs were found to be the true culprits of disease and infection, and now the word “miasma” is more commonly used in figurative contexts.
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