• IPA: /bæˈsɪl.əs/

bacillus (plural bacilli)

  1. Any of various rod-shaped, spore-forming aerobic bacteria in the genus Bacillus, some of which cause disease.
    • 1895, H. G. Wells, The Stolen Bacillus
      'This again,' said the Bacteriologist, slipping a glass slide under the microscope, 'is a preparation of the celebrated Bacillus of cholera - the cholera germ.'
  2. Any bacilliform (rod-shaped) bacterium.
  3. (figurative, by extension) Something which spreads like bacterial infection.
    • 1934 [2018], Gottfried Haberler quoted in Quinn Slobodian, Globalists, 71:
      The “bacillus of boom or depression,” he wrote, travels freely “from country to country.”

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