epidemic

adjective
ep·​i·​dem·​ic | \ ˌe-pə-ˈde-mik How to pronounce epidemic (audio) \

Definition of epidemic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time typhoid was epidemic
2a : excessively prevalent
b : contagious sense 4 epidemic laughter
3 : characterized by very widespread growth or extent : of, relating to, or constituting an epidemic the practice had reached epidemic proportions

epidemic

noun
ep·​i·​dem·​ic | \ ˌe-pə-ˈde-mik How to pronounce epidemic (audio) \

Definition of epidemic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an outbreak of disease that spreads quickly and affects many individuals at the same time : an outbreak of epidemic disease
2 : an outbreak or product of sudden rapid spread, growth, or development an epidemic of bankruptcies

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Other Words from epidemic

Adjective

epidemical \ ˌe-​pə-​ˈde-​mi-​kəl How to pronounce epidemical (audio) \ adjective
epidemically \ ˌe-​pə-​ˈde-​mi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce epidemically (audio) \ adverb
epidemicity \ ˌe-​pə-​də-​ˈmi-​sə-​tē How to pronounce epidemicity (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for epidemic

Synonyms: Adjective

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Examples of epidemic in a Sentence

Adjective Overuse injuries—particularly in the elbows and shoulders of young pitchers—are indeed becoming epidemic. Orthopedists often blame coaches and parents for failing to monitor how many pitches kids are throwing and for not giving them time to rest their arms. — Sara Corbett, New York Times Sports Magazine, June 2006 The dream of running off to live the good life in a postcard perfect town in the mountains or by the sea often reaches epidemic proportions near the end of summer. — John Rasmus, National Geographic, September 2004 Saturday Night Fever propelled disco fever to epidemic proportions: By 1978, 40 percent of all the music on Billboard's Hot 100 was disco. — Peter Braunstein, American Heritage, November 1999 the little girl's giggles were epidemic, and soon the entire gathering was laughing Noun Cosmetic surgery is now so prevalent that it could qualify as a national epidemic. — Toni Bentley, New York Times Book Review, 22 Oct. 2006 "Spim," as people are beginning to call unsolicited instant messages, is the latest installment in the growing epidemic of unwanted electronic ads and a further sign that unscrupulous online marketers will seek to take advantage of all of the Internet's communication tools, not limiting themselves to spam or pop-up ads. — David McGuire, WashingtonPost.com, 13 Nov. 2003 Whatever might have motivated Kennedy to put [Ian] Fleming on his list, from that point, Bond became an international obsession. When the first Bond film appeared in 1962—Dr. No—the obsession was a full-blown craze, a cultural epidemic. — Gerald Early, New Letters, 1999
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The economy may be able to return to pre-epidemic levels by the end of next year or early 2022, Scholz said. Mariajose Vera, Bloomberg.com, "Merkel Pledges to Strengthen Germany’s Public Health Service," 5 Sep. 2020 Collier said that overall, activity on Dauphin Island had rebounded to very near pre-epidemic levels. al, "No music, no lies, just fishing: Alabama deep sea rodeo adapts to COVID-19," 23 June 2020 In recent days, Beijing had already reinstated some anti-epidemic controls. BostonGlobe.com, "Schools shut in Beijing as coronavirus flares," 17 June 2020 Still, as of last week, visits to retail establishments and restaurants were about 17 percent lower than pre-epidemic levels. Anna Kuchment, Dallas News, "Experts warned of a second wave of coronavirus cases as reopenings swept Texas in May," 7 June 2020 An official from the Mangyongdae District emergency anti-epidemic headquarters disinfects a tramcar to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, at the Songsan Tram Station in Pyongyang on February 26, 2020. Will Ripley, CNN, "Foreign diplomats to be evacuated from North Korea as country steps up efforts to prevent virus outbreak," 28 Feb. 2020 In other words, the potential of the Nagoya Protocol for adverse impacts on infectious disease prevention, timely epidemic response and, ultimately, global health security, is quite significant. Thomas B. Cueni, STAT, "Novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV exposes a flaw in the Nagoya Protocol," 5 Feb. 2020 In Shakespeare, epidemic disease is present for the most part as a steady, low-level undertone, surfacing in his characters’ speeches most vividly in metaphorical expressions of rage and disgust. Stephen Greenblatt, The New Yorker, "What Shakespeare Actually Wrote About the Plague," 7 May 2020 But in the garment industry in Gaza, where joblessness, poverty and dependency on international aid were already at epidemic proportions, the coronavirus has oddly been a boon. Adam Rasgon, New York Times, "In Odd Turn With Israel, Gazans Get Economic Adrenaline Shot from Virus," 1 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Compounding the problems, an internal fight between high-ranking administrators exploded into public view just as the epidemic was gaining traction in Connecticut. Dave Altimari, courant.com, "Unprepared: Lapses in planning, communication and safety left Connecticut’s nursing homes exposed when the coronavirus pandemic struck in force," 18 Oct. 2020 Within weeks, the agency was pushed offstage as President Donald Trump and other administration officials, during daily news briefings, became the main sources of information about the U.S. epidemic and the attempts to control it. Jason Dearen, chicagotribune.com, "White House puts ‘politicals’ at CDC to try to control information it releases about the coronavirus pandemic," 16 Oct. 2020 An infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars at the time of the Ebola epidemic in 2014 allowed the agency to increase its presence to as many as 65 countries, but a large chunk of those funds ran out in 2019. Anchorage Daily News, "Inside the Fall of the CDC," 16 Oct. 2020 Solidarity built on experience from the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, says Ana Maria Henao Restrepo, who heads the Research and Development Group at WHO. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "Remdesivir and interferon fall flat in WHO’s megastudy of COVID-19 treatments," 16 Oct. 2020 Within weeks, the agency was pushed offstage as President Donald Trump and other administration officials, during daily news briefings, became the main sources of information about the U.S. epidemic and the attempts to control it. Jason Dearen, Star Tribune, "White House puts 'politicals' at CDC to try to control info," 15 Oct. 2020 An infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars at the time of the Ebola epidemic in 2014 allowed the agency to increase its presence to as many as 65 countries, but a large chunk of those funds ran out in 2019. James Bandler, ProPublica, "Inside the Fall of the CDC," 15 Oct. 2020 San Francisco’s drug epidemic has skyrocketed this year, claiming about 470 lives in just the first eight months of the year, according to preliminary data from the medical examiner. Trisha Thadani, SFChronicle.com, "S.F.’s overdose numbers are staggeringly high. They could have been even higher without Narcan," 15 Oct. 2020 From 2000 to 2005, South African President Thabo Mbeki disputed the scientific consensus that HIV caused AIDS, questioned the usefulness of all antiretroviral drugs in fighting the AIDS epidemic and blocked access to these medicines. Mark Johnson, jsonline.com, "The U.S. was the world's best prepared nation to confront a pandemic. How did it spiral to 'almost inconceivable' failure?," 14 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'epidemic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of epidemic

Adjective

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1757, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for epidemic

Adjective

borrowed from French épidémique, going back to Middle French, from epidemie "disease affecting a large number of individuals" + -ique -ic entry 1; Middle French epidemie, earlier epydimie, borrowed from Medieval Latin epidēmia, derivative (from feminine singular or neuter plural) of Late Latin epidēmius "widespread, prevalent (of a disease)," borrowed from Greek epidḗmios "within the country, among the people, prevalent (of a disease)," from epi- epi- + -dēmios, adjective derivative of dêmos "district, country, people" — more at demo-

Note: The notion that the word epidemic (adjective or noun) is owed directly to Hippocrates—or is, to put it more circumspectly, part of the Hippocratic Corpus—is somewhat illusory, a product of the words used in English translations. For example, in W. H. S. Jones' translation of De aere aquis et locis (Loeb Classical Library, 1923), the following passage (4.32-34) implies a distinction between "endemic" and "epidemic": "For men these diseases are endemic, besides there are epidemic diseases which may prevail through the change of the seasons." In the Greek text, however, "endemic diseases" are nosḗmata epichōría "illnesses of the country, native illnesses," while "epidemic diseases" translates ti pánkoinon, literally, "something common," i.e., "common or general diseases." Derivatives based on epi- and dêmos can be found in the Hippocratic texts (e.g., "Kaì gàr állōs tò nósēma epídēmon ên," Epidemics 1.14; "Tà mèn epidēmḗsanta nosḗmata taûta," Epidemics 3.3), though epídēmon means simply "common, prevalent," and epidēmḗsanta "having become prevalent." The title Epidḗmia, conventionally translated "Epidemics," for the works in the Hippocratic Corpus dealing with seasonal diseases and case histories, is presumably post-classical.

Noun

noun derivative of epidemic entry 1

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Time Traveler for epidemic

Time Traveler

The first known use of epidemic was in 1603

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Statistics for epidemic

Last Updated

14 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Epidemic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epidemic. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for epidemic

epidemic

noun
How to pronounce epidemic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of epidemic

medical : an occurrence in which a disease spreads very quickly and affects a large number of people
: a sudden quickly spreading occurrence of something harmful or unwanted

epidemic

noun
ep·​i·​dem·​ic | \ ˌe-pə-ˈde-mik How to pronounce epidemic (audio) \

Kids Definition of epidemic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a rapidly spreading outbreak of disease
2 : something harmful that spreads or develops rapidly a crime epidemic

epidemic

adjective

Kids Definition of epidemic (Entry 2 of 2)

: spreading widely and affecting many people at the same time an epidemic disease

epidemic

adjective
ep·​i·​dem·​ic | \ ˌep-ə-ˈdem-ik How to pronounce epidemic (audio) \
variants: also epidemical \ -​i-​kəl How to pronounce epidemical (audio) \

Medical Definition of epidemic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : affecting or tending to affect an atypically large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time typhoid was epidemic — compare endemic, sporadic sense 1
2 : of, relating to, or constituting an epidemic coronary disease…has hit epidemic proportions— Herbert Ratner

Other Words from epidemic

epidemically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce epidemically (audio) \ adverb

epidemic

noun

Medical Definition of epidemic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an outbreak of epidemic disease
2 : a natural population (as of insects) suddenly and greatly enlarged

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