The words contracting or catching a disease mainly refers to the communicable ones.

If the disease/condition is a slowly developing one, then what would be a good substitute for "developed?"

During the fall of last year, he developed ulcers.

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    What's wrong with developed? Dec 14, 2014 at 19:42
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    If the disease is a slowly-developing one then "developed" is probably about the best choice. "came down with" is a common informal term for taking ill with something, but probably implies a more rapid progression.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 14, 2014 at 19:51
  • Develop describes the idea best, but I have overused it in my piece and need some other word.
    – Joe Black
    Dec 14, 2014 at 21:06
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    You could paraphrase: '... began to suffer from ...' etc. Dec 14, 2014 at 22:05
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    An expression that is widely used, which I happen to loathe and never use myself, is, 'he was diagnosed with beriberi'. It seems to place responsibility for the condition on the shoulders of the doctor, as if everything would have been alright if only the wretched doctor hadn't interfered.
    – WS2
    Dec 14, 2014 at 23:25

3 Answers 3


In cases where you have exhausted the thesaurus, it usually means you should try to rewrite the sentence. It isn't a matter of finding another word. That said, how about: acquired? showed signs/symptoms of...? suffered? symptomatic of?? manifest? indicate? indications?


It's funny, but in the US, even if something is not communicable, I guess we often use a phrase that implies causation:

"She's got cancer." "He ended up getting ulcers" "When she got Alzheimer's, they put her in a home"

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    Forgive me, but I am not clear about how any of those 'imply causation'. How would one say it in a way that didn't 'imply causation'?
    – WS2
    Dec 14, 2014 at 23:21
  • Sorry... I guess that wasn't the best way to put it. In other words: To "get" something implies action - rather than if the thing manifested of its own accord.
    – Oldbag
    Dec 15, 2014 at 3:38
  • I think by causation oldbag was referring to the sense of action on someone's part that's implicit in the word "got."
    – Joe Black
    Dec 26, 2014 at 19:40

In a medical environment, "developed" would fit most signs and symptoms. It wouldn't sound natural to use it for certain diseases, though. e.g. When discussing a case, we wouldn't say:

"This patient developed a myocardial infarction." An MD or RN will just say "he has an acute M.I." or "he had an acute M.I.", and will save "develop" for complications: "this patient with acute M.I. developed third-degree heart block, ventricular tachycardia or pulmonary edema".

The layman, on the other hand, will surely use "has", "had", "has got", "had got". We don't hear people say "I've contracted or developed a cold"

  • This was useful to the discussion.
    – Joe Black
    Dec 26, 2014 at 19:41

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