Definition of illness noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈɪlnəs//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈɪlnəs//
    Poor health
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  1. 1  [uncountable] the state of being physically or mentally ill mental illness I missed a lot of school through illness last year. See related entries: Poor health
  2. 2  [countable] a type or period of illness minor/serious illnesses childhood illnesses He died after a long illness. Synonymsillnesssickness ill health troubleThese are all words for the state of being physically or mentally ill.illness the state of being physically or mentally ill.sickness illness; bad health:I recommend you get insurance against sickness and unemployment.illness or sickness?Sickness is used especially in contexts concerning work and insurance. It is commonly found with words such as pay, leave, absence and insurance. Illness has a wider range of uses and is found in more general contexts.ill health (rather formal) the state of being physically ill or having lots of health problems:She resigned because of ill health. Ill health often lasts a long period of time.trouble illness or pain:heart trouble. When trouble is used with this meaning, it is necessary to say which part of the body is affected.Patterns chronic illness/​sickness/​ill health to suffer from illness/​sickness/​ill health/​heart, etc. trouble Synonymsdiseaseillness disorder infection condition ailment bugThese are all words for a medical problem.disease a medical problem affecting humans, animals or plants, often caused by infection:He suffers from a rare blood disease.illness a medical problem, or a period of suffering from one:She died after a long illness.disease or illness?Disease is used to talk about more severe physical medical problems, especially those that affect the organs. Illness is used to talk about both more severe and more minor medical problems, and those that affect mental health:heart/​kidney/​liver illness mental disease. Disease is not used about a period of illness:She died after a long disease.disorder (rather formal) an illness that causes a part of the body to stop functioning correctly:a rare disorder of the liver. A disorder is generally not infectious. Disorder is used most frequently with words relating to mental problems, for example psychiatric, personality, mental and eating. When it is used to talk about physical problems, it is most often used with blood, bowel and kidney, and these are commonly serious, severe or rare.infection an illness that is caused by bacteria or a virus and that affects one part of the body:a throat infectioncondition a medical problem that you have for a long time because it is not possible to cure it:a heart conditionailment (rather formal) an illness that is not very serious:childhood ailmentsbug (informal) an infectious illness that is usually fairly mild:a nasty flu bugPatterns to have/​suffer from a(n) disease/​illness/​disorder/​infection/​condition/​ailment/​bug to catch/​contract/​get/​pick up a(n) disease/​illness/​infection/​bug Wordfinderbacteria, disease, epidemic, fever, illness, immunity, infection, spread, vaccinate, virus CollocationsIllnessesBecoming ill catch a cold/​an infectious disease/​the flu/(British English) flu/​pneumonia/​a virus/(informal) a bug get (British English) ill/(North American English) sick/​a disease/​AIDS/​breast cancer/​a cold/​the flu/(British English) flu/​a migraine come down with a cold/​the flu/(British English) flu contract a deadly disease/​a serious illness/​HIV/​AIDS be infected with a virus/​a parasite/​HIV develop cancer/​diabetes/​a rash/​an ulcer/​symptoms of hepatitis have a heart attack/​a stroke provoke/​trigger/​produce an allergic reaction block/​burst/​rupture a blood vessel damage/​sever a nerve/​an artery/​a tendonBeing ill feel (British English) ill/​sick/​nauseous/​queasy be running (British English) a temperature/(North American English) a fever have a head cold/​diabetes/​heart disease/​lung cancer/​a headache/(British English) a high temperature/(North American English) a fever suffer from asthma/​malnutrition/​frequent headaches/​bouts of depression/​a mental disorder be laid up with/ (British English) be in bed with a cold/​the flu/(British English) flu/​a migraine nurse a cold/​a headache/​a hangover battle/​fight cancer/​depression/​addiction/​alcoholismTreatments examine a patient diagnose a condition/​disease/​disorder be diagnosed with cancer/​diabetes/​schizophrenia prescribe/​be given/​be on/​take drugs/​medicine/​medication/​pills/​painkillers/​antibiotics treat somebody for cancer/​depression/​shock have/​undergo an examination/​an operation/​surgery/​a kidney transplant/​therapy/​chemotherapy/​treatment for cancer have/​be given an injection/(British English) a flu jab/(North American English) a flu shot/​a blood transfusion/​a scan/​an X-ray cure a disease/​an ailment/​cancer/​a headache/​a patient prevent the spread of disease/​further outbreaks/​damage to the lungs be vaccinated against the flu/(British English) flu/​the measles/(British English) measles/​polio/​smallpox enhance/​boost/​confer/​build immunity to a disease
  3. Extra examples As his illness progressed, Neil began to have difficulty speaking. Badly fed children suffer a lot of minor illnesses. Both illnesses require treatment. Claire is optimistic she can beat her illness. Clinical depression is a treatable illness. Diabetes is a common illness. He became blind after contracting a rare illness. He contracted a serious illness and died a month later. He suffered from a debilitating illness which made everyday life a struggle. He’s just returned to work after illness. Her childhood was plagued by illness. Kerry died of a sudden illness. Mental illness afflicts one in four people. She bore her final illness with great courage. She feigned illness so that she wouldn’t have to go to school. She nursed her father through his final illness. She survived a life-threatening illness. Some illnesses occur more frequently following puberty. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether illnesses result from bacteria or viruses. Suddenly, illness hit the household. TB is a major cause of preventable illness and death. The drug is used to treat a wide range of illnesses. The illness struck while he was touring. The immune system enables the body to fight off illness. The mystery illness affected hundreds of people in the city. The only thing that could cure her illness was a special herb. They had failed to find the cause of his mystery illness. We assess the applicant’s history of family illness. a drug that may be helpful in preventing illnesses such as cancer a high rate of illness among the workers an acute episode of mental illness earnings lost due to illness episodes of illness in children illnesses caused by poverty people who never seem to catch the illnesses their friends get people who suffer from mental illness people with serious psychological illnesses the first case of illness from the Ebola virus the illnesses associated with HIV infection the most common stress-related illnesses the pain and distress caused by your illness the sudden onset of illness in a parent those who experience mental illness ways to help arthritis sufferers manage their illness Have you suffered from any serious illnesses in the past six months? She suffered from mental illness throughout her life. They’ve just published an encyclopedia of childhood illnesses.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: illness