n. pl. stig·mas or stig·ma·ta (stĭg-mätə, -mătə, stĭgmə-)
1. An association of disgrace or public disapproval with something, such as an action or condition: "Depression ... has become easier to diagnose, and seeking treatment does not carry the stigma it once did" (Greg Critser). See Synonyms at stain.
a. A visible indicator of disease.
b. A small bodily mark, especially a birthmark or scar, that is congenital or indicative of a condition or disease.
3. Psychology A bleeding spot on the skin considered to be a manifestation of conversion disorder.
4. stigmata Christianity Bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain corresponding in location to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus, believed to be given as divine recognition of devotion.
5. Botany The apex of the pistil of a flower, on which pollen grains are deposited and germinate.
6. Biology A small mark, spot, or pore, such as the respiratory spiracle of an insect or an eyespot in certain protists.
7. Archaic A mark burned into the skin as a visible identifier of a person as a criminal or slave; a brand.
[Middle English stigme, brand, from Latin stigma, stigmat-, tattoo indicating slave or criminal status, from Greek, tattoo mark, from stizein, stig-, to prick; see steig- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.