Contract a disease or contact a disease

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The phrases contract a disease and contact a disease are often confused, but only one of these terms is correct. We will examine the meaning and origin of the phrases contract a disease and contact a disease as well as some example of the correct use in sentences.

To contract a disease means to catch or acquire an illness through the exposure to a contagious pathogen. However, one may also contract a disease that is non-communicable such as cancer. Contract a disease is a verb phrase, related terms are contracts a disease, contracted a disease and contracting a disease. The word contract is derived from the Latin word contractus which means to draw together.

To contact a disease is an eggcorn, which is a misheard word or phrase that retains its original meaning. To contact a disease is not an accepted term. This eggcorn is probably a confabulation of the terms to come into contact with a disease and to contract a disease. 


Although he contracted osteomyelitis at age 6, causing permanent damage to his hips and joints and leaving him with a limp for the remainder of his life, Roger still managed the very labor-intensive job of pulling green chain as a young man at the local lumber mill to pay for his college tuition. (The Lewiston Tribune)

The 6-foot-3, 207-pound Morrow, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., was beginning to ramp up his throwing program before Christmas that winter when he contracted valley fever, which causes fatigue, coughing, shortness of breath, headaches, night sweats, muscle aches and fever. (The Los Angeles Times)

The report found one in two Canadians are expected to contract cancer at some point in their lives, while the country is seeing more new cancer cases overall. (The Edmonton Journal)