I know that "onset" is a noun. I'm trying to find a verb to convey the onset of a disease. For instance, I need to make a list of things that are not covered by a medical insurance product, and one of the items is something like this:

  • Congenital disease that <verb> or is confirmed by the insured before the age of 8

What verb would I put there to mean "onset"? Or how could I reword the phrase while keeping "congenital disease" as the focus of the phrase?

I've seen somebody write "Congenital disease that is infested or confirmed by the insured before the age of 8" and I find it a little weird. I can't find any supporting reference that says the verb "to infest" can be used this way.

I have had other people suggest "to contract", but that's definitely wrong because contraction is not the same as onset, and would not make sense for congenital diseases anyway.

  • 4
    I think they may have meant manifested not infested.
    – mdewey
    Oct 21, 2020 at 10:18
  • 4
    Manifests itself (agree with mdewey) or is diagnosed would fit. Oct 21, 2020 at 10:21
  • 3
    The choice between manifest and diagnose may depend on the purpose of the document being drafted. A congenital condition might be diagnosed before it has manifested. Oct 21, 2020 at 11:55
  • 1
    infested is for bugs in your house. :)
    – Lambie
    Apr 27, 2023 at 14:46

2 Answers 2


Taking your original

Congenital disease that verb or is confirmed by the insured before the age of 8

You could say

Congenital disease that was first manifested or is confirmed by the insured before the age of 8

This unfortunately reads as though the insured had to confirm it before he or she reached the age of 8 which is clearly absurd

Congenital disease that was diagnosed or is confirmed by the insured before the age of 8

This is possible but as @WeatherVane pointed out a disease can be manifest before it is diagnosed and diagnosed before it is manifested. For instance a chromosomal abnormality could be identified well before any clinical signs or symptoms.

It might be better to split this into two questions depending on exactly what you are trying to determine but I think we are then straying into an area where either the medical or legal site might provide more authoritative answers.

  • 2
    "either the medical or legal site might provide more authoritative answers" Absolutely. You need the correct terms. It is even possible that the legal language is different from the medical language. I suggest you ask on Medical Sciences first and then check the answer on Law Nov 23, 2020 at 11:09

Yes Kal, You're correct in noting that "infest" is not the appropriate verb for the context of disease onset, as it typically refers to pests or parasites. Similarly, "to contract" implies acquiring a disease, which doesn't fit congenital conditions that are present from birth. For congenital diseases, the onset is inherently at or before birth, but you're looking for a verb that conveys the idea of the disease becoming apparent or diagnosed.

A suitable phrase could be:

"manifests" This term is commonly used in medical contexts to describe when the symptoms of a condition become apparent. Your sentence could be reworded as:

"Congenital disease that manifests or is confirmed by the insured before the age of 8."

This keeps "congenital disease" as the focus and accurately conveys that the disease becomes evident or is diagnosed by a certain age, without implying it was acquired.

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