Medical Definition of Bacteriaphobia

Bacteriaphobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of germs. Sufferers from bacteriaphobia experience undue anxiety even though they realize that most germs are not pathogens (disease-causing germs). To avoid germs, they may repeat cleaning rituals, such as washing their hands or face.

"Bacteriaphobia" is derived from the Greek "bacterion" (staff) and "phobos" (fear). The Greek word for "staff" was chosen because some bacteria (bacilli) are rod-shaped, like a staff.

Alternate spelling: Bacteriophobia. Alternate name: Bacillophobia. Also referred to as germaphobia, germaphobe, or germophobe.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/18/2017