Student Dictionary

One entry found for influenza.
Main Entry: in·flu·en·za
Pronunciation: secondarystressin-(secondarystress)flü-primarystressen-zschwa
Function: noun
Etymology: from Italian influenza, literally "influence," from Latin influentia "influence," derived from earlier influere "to flow in," from in- "in, into" and fluere "to flow"
1 : a very contagious virus disease with fever, exhaustion, severe aches and pains, and inflammation of the respiratory tract
2 : any of various diseases of human beings or domestic animals that are usually caused by viruses and are typically marked by fever and respiratory symptoms
Word History Originally the Italian word influenza meant what the similar-sounding word in English, influence, means: "the act or power of producing an effect indirectly." But it also had the Latin meaning of "an invisible fluid through which the stars and planets control and direct the earth and things and people on it." When epidemics raged through Europe, no one knew what the real cause was. People blamed them on evil stars working through the invisible fluid, or influence. For this reason the Italians called the disease influenza. In 1743 an epidemic very much like our modern flu began in Rome and spread. That was when the Italian word was borrowed into English. Flu is a shortened form of influenza.

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