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Volume 18, Number 9—September 2012


Etymologia: Anopheles

Suggested citation for this article

Anopheles [ə-nofʹə-lēz]

From the Greek an (“not”) + ophelos (“benefit”), a genus of mosquitoes, many species of which are vectors of malaria. Anopheles was first described by German entomologist Johann Wilhelm Meigen in 1818. Although some sources translate Anopheles as “harmful,” it would be decades before Ronald Ross showed in 1897 that these mosquitoes transmit malaria parasites, and Meigen was most likely using Anopheles in a more literal interpretation as “useless.” That said, the connotation of “harmful” was prophetic in describing a mosquito that, even today, is indirectly responsible for ≈1 million deaths per year.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ross and the discovery that mosquitoes transmit malaria parasites [cited 2012 Aug 6].
  2. Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 32nd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.
  3. Förster JA. On the life and influence of J. W. Meigen.Mosquito Systematics.1974;6:7988.
  4. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed. Springfield (MA): Merriam-Webster, Incorporated; 2003.

Suggested citation for this article: Etymologia: Anopheles. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2012 Sep [date cited].

DOI: 10.3201/eid1809.ET1809

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