AskDefine | Define pestiferous

Dictionary Definition

pestiferous adj
1 contaminated with infecting organisms; "dirty wounds"; "obliged to go into infected rooms"- Jane Austen [syn: contaminated, dirty, infected]
2 likely to spread and cause an epidemic disease; "a pestilential malignancy in the air"- Jonathan Swift; "plaguey fevers" [syn: pestilent, pestilential, plaguey]
3 tending to corrupt or pervert [syn: corruptive, perversive]
4 causing irritation or annoyance; "tapping an annoying rhythm on his glass with his fork"; "aircraft noise is particularly bothersome near the airport"; "found it galling to have to ask permission"; "an irritating delay"; "nettlesome paperwork"; "a pesky mosquito"; "swarms of pestering gnats"; "a plaguey newfangled safety catch"; "a teasing and persistent thought annoyed him"; "a vexatious child"; "it is vexing to have to admit you are wrong" [syn: annoying, bothersome, galling, irritating, nettlesome, pesky, pestering, plaguy, plaguey, teasing, vexatious, vexing]

User Contributed Dictionary



(Canada) /ˌpɛsˈtɪfərəs/


  1. containing organisms that cause contagious diseases
    • 1589: Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations
      because he hath vouchsafed to preserue our nation from such fountains, from serpents and venemous wormes, & from al other pestiferous & contagious creatures.
    • 1792: Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
      In these solemn moments man discovers the germ of those vices, which like the Java tree shed a pestiferous vapour around--death is in the shade!
    • 1853: Charles Dickens, Bleak House
      and bears the body of our dear brother here departed to a hemmed-in churchyard, pestiferous and obscene, whence malignant diseases are communicated to the bodies of our dear brothers and sisters who have not departed...
  2. annoying, vexatious
    • 1592: William Shakespeare, King Henry VI, Part 1
      No, prelate; such is thy audacious wickedness, / Thy lewd, pestiferous, and dissentious pranks, / As very infants prattle of thy pride.
    • 1896: Mark Twain, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc
      and if any could have hanged his hindering and pestiferous council and set him free, he would have answered Joan's prayer and set her in the field.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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