an acute infectious disease, esp. of children, caused by a viral inflammation of the gray matter of the spinal cord: it is accompanied by paralysis of various muscle groups that sometimes atrophy, often with resulting permanent deformities
also acute anterior poliomyelitis
Origin of poliomyelitisModern Latin ; from Classical Greek polios, gray + myelitis
A highly infectious viral disease that chiefly affects children and, in its acute forms, causes inflammation of motor neurons of the spinal cord and brain stem, leading to paralysis, muscular atrophy, and often deformity. Through vaccination, the disease is preventable. Also called infantile paralysis, polio.
Origin of poliomyelitisGreek polios, gray (since it affects the gray matter); see pel-1 in Indo-European roots + myelitis.