Learn English – Difference between contract and catch [a disease]


What could be the difference between contracting a disease and catching a disease?

I know there isn't any big difference. However, it looks like there are some diseases you can both catch and contract and others you can only either catch or contract.

Best Answer

While the terms are often used interchangeably with regard to illness, there are some differences.

Contract, in this context, means

[with object] catch or develop (a disease or infectious agent): three people contracted a killer virus

The term is regularly used with chronic diseases:

Women in their 30s and 40s are TWICE as likely to contract cancer than men - with breast cancer largely to blame

Daily Mail

Arthritis: What are the symptoms and who is likely to contract it?


Catch means

contract (an illness) through infection or contagion: he served in Macedonia, where he caught malaria

The principal difference is that catch suggests a transmittable infection, while contract can refer to a wider variety of diseases, including those that are not contagious.