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

Keep scrolling for more

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

catching, contagious, infectious, spreading

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Reaching epidemic proportions on no less than five occasions during the late 15th and early 16th centuries, sweating sickness was highly lethal. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "The Cause of Prince Arthur Tudor's Death Remains a Medical Mystery," 13 May 2019 Some world leaders have backed a plan first proposed by then-German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to create a multinational white helmet brigade that could provide security and logistical dimensions to an epidemic response. Ron Klain, Vox, "A pandemic killing tens of millions of people is a real possibility — and we are not prepared for it," 15 Oct. 2018 And only heightened by the fact that STD rates are at an all-time high, there's no doubt that opening up the biological treatment to a wider range of women is a major stride for a health concern that's approaching epidemic proportions. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "The HPV Vaccine is Now Available to Women Over 27—Here’s Why It’s Great News for You," 8 Oct. 2018 Wochit As Marion County sees its hepatitis C rate soar to epidemic proportions, local health officials Thursday called for the county to start the state’s eighth syringe exchange program. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "Marion County could get needle exchange program, as hepatitis C rates soar," 17 May 2018 Broward, like many other local governments across the country, is suing or considering suing the companies because of the large costs incurred as the opioid epidemic taxes local police and emergency medical services. Larry Barszewski, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Broward sues over opioids, including Walmart, Walgreens and CVS," 15 Mar. 2018 In 2016, the World Health Organization added Lassa fever to its list of priority pathogens of epidemic potential, calling for more research. Leslie Roberts, Science | AAAS, "Health workers scramble to contain deadly rat-borne fever in Nigeria," 12 Mar. 2018 But, the study authors, led by microbiologist Robert Britton at Baylor College of Medicine, found that the two epidemic strains had genetic tricks to live on just tiny amounts. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Mysterious explosion of a deadly plague may come down to a sugar in ice cream," 10 Jan. 2018 Cunningham worked as an epidemic intelligence officer and has been deployed for a number public health emergencies. Paula Rogo, Essence.com, "This CDC Employee Has Been Missing For Almost Two Weeks," 26 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Combating the opioid epidemic in rural areas using USDA grants and loans is an idea that was proposed last year by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D) of Illinois and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) of Indiana. Jen Fifield, The Christian Science Monitor, "USDA to provide funds to fight rural opioid crisis," 1 May 2018 This terrifying tale has the audacity to take place in broad daylight in the backwoods of a rural Kentucky town caught in the crosshairs of the opioid epidemic. Kellee Terrell, Harper's BAZAAR, "Jen McGowan's Feminist Horror Rust Creek Is Exactly What Hollywood Needs Right Now," 22 Jan. 2019 More than 70 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 35 million have died since the beginning of the epidemic. Alexandria Hein, Fox News, "Cluster of HIV cases in North Seattle prompt concern of potential outbreak," 31 Aug. 2018 But more importantly, the conference’s goal is to remind people that the fight against HIV is not over, particularly in the southern U.S., which has become the epicenter of the HIV epidemic. Naseem S. Miller, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Large AIDS conference coming to Orlando in September," 13 July 2018 He is also recognized for his work chronicling disasters in what was then Biafra (today part of Nigeria), the conflict in Northern Ireland and the ravages of the AIDS epidemic across the African continent. Carolina A. Miranda, latimes.com, "Datebook: Shots of old Route 66, dreamlike paintings and garments fashioned from paper," 12 July 2018 That's because new HIV cases now flooding the area were foreseen as a consequence of the heroin epidemic. Terry Demio, Cincinnati.com, "Living with HIV: Fueled by heroin, HIV makes an alarming resurgence in Cincinnati," 11 July 2018 Fentanyl, while horrifyingly adept at killing victims of America's opioid epidemic, has never been used by the state to execute a criminal via intentional overdose. Robbie Gonzalez, WIRED, "The Untested Drugs at the Heart of Nevada's Execution Controversy," 11 July 2018 The face of the nation's opioid epidemic increasingly is gray and wrinkled. Joe Davidson, courant.com, "Opioid Abuse Among People Over 50 Grows," 1 June 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about epidemic

Statistics for epidemic

Last Updated

26 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for epidemic

The first known use of epidemic was in 1603

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for epidemic

epidemic

noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on epidemic

What made you want to look up epidemic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!