develop a disease - contract a disease

chelsea2010

Banned
Ukranian
Good afternoon.

What is the difference between "to develop a disease" and "to contact a disease"? I think we use "contract" when the disease is contagious and can be easily passed from one person to another (TB, mumps, chicken-pox, measles), but we use "develop" about something that progressed gradually and is usually not curable completely (cancer, diabetes).

Am I right?
 
  • brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    I think you're right. I wouldn't have much else to add to that explanation, except that perhaps "develop" is not super common to begin with. What I mean is, it sounds totally normal to "contract/catch the measles," whereas it sounds a bit odd to my ears to "develop cancer." I think we usually just say "to be diagnosed with cancer" or, using "develop" intransitively, we say that "cancer develops."
     

    chelsea2010

    Banned
    Ukranian
    I think you're right. I wouldn't have much else to add to that explanation, except that perhaps "develop" is not super common to begin with. What I mean is, it sounds totally normal to "contract/catch the measles," whereas it sounds a bit odd to my ears to "develop cancer." I think we usually just say "to be diagnosed with cancer" or, using "develop" intransitively, we say that "cancer develops."
    Thank you, brian, it was very helpful, indeed. Still I am a bit surprised that "develop" is not used quite often. Maybe in the USA only? How about "She developed cancer and succumbed to it in a year", for example?
     

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    It sounds okay, but honestly I'd prefer "She was diagnosed with cancer and then..." Because you generally don't know you have it until you see a doctor and get diagnosed with it.
     

    loopout

    New Member
    English
    It sounds okay, but honestly I'd prefer "She was diagnosed with cancer and then..." Because you generally don't know you have it until you see a doctor and get diagnosed with it.
    In my opinion, I would use the word "developed" for non-communicable diseases, which tend to literally do just that, they develop over time, as most are associated with risk factors including unhealthy lifestyle behaviours (e.g., type 2 diabetes, cancers, metabolic syndrome etc.). I would use the word "contracted" for communicable diseases, such as chickenpox.
     

    loopout

    New Member
    English
    There you are - thanks Biffo. I would never say "contracted cancer", nor would I say "developed the flu".

    Informally, people tend to say "I caught the flu", "caught" being informal for "contracted" here.
    Confusingly, people also tend to say "I got cancer", but that's just poor grammar, because they mean "I have cancer", or "I have developed cancer". Cancer, diabetes, obesity even for example, are not "caught". They "develop", as do all non-communicable diseases.

    "Developed" refers to an inherent process within the body, whereas "contracted" refers to an external causal factor, although inherent processes are influenced by external factors.

    Sorry for my long-winded explanations... and really, this is all just my opinion.
     
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