epidemic

adjective
ep·​i·​dem·​ic | \ ˌe-pə-ˈde-mik \

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 \

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 \ adjective
epidemically \ ˌe-​pə-​ˈde-​mi-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb
epidemicity \ ˌe-​pə-​də-​ˈmi-​sə-​tē \ noun

Synonyms for epidemic

Synonyms: Adjective

catching, contagious, infectious, spreading

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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, www.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

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 The flu is on its way out. While still at epidemic levels, the historically bad 2017-2018 season has finally started to subside. Fortune, "America's Nightmare Flu Season Is Finally Coming to an End," 24 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The nation’s growing obesity epidemic was first identified as a problem in the 1990s. Mike Stobbe, The Seattle Times, "US cancer death rate hits milestone: 25 years of decline," 8 Jan. 2019 The Surgeon General called youth vaping an epidemic this week, after multiple lines of research showed that teen use of products like Juul had spiked in the past year. Mary Beth Griggs, The Verge, "Big tobacco just spent $12.8 billion to get a taste of Juul," 20 Dec. 2018 Snow days, lice epidemics, and absurdly long school vacations—there are many different causes of cabin fever. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "What to Do with Cooped-Up Kids: Stack Wood," 23 Nov. 2018 To grasp the issues fueling this silent epidemic, as well as how to fight them, Woman's Day spoke to three women battling hunger in their communities. Sandy M. Fernandez, Woman's Day, "How Three Women Are Pioneering to End Hunger in the U.S.," 14 Nov. 2018 Soda taxes are one of the more promising tools for curbing obesity Health researchers have known for years that high-calorie, nutrient-poor beverages such as soda have been major contributors to the obesity epidemic. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Coca-Cola and Pepsi’s deceptive tactic to stop soda taxes worked in Washington state," 7 Nov. 2018 The show tackled hot-button topics such as the opioid epidemic, single parenting and the Trump presidency, with the fictional Roseanne’s support mirrored by that of Barr in real life. Lynn Elber, BostonGlobe.com, "ABC orders ‘Roseanne’ spinoff for fall minus Roseanne Barr," 22 June 2018 But Councilwoman Vicki Aubrey Welch, who co-sponsored the idea with Blackwell, said the proposal was introduced as just one means of combating the local childhood obesity epidemic. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville restaurants forced to offer healthy food on kid's menus," 25 May 2018 The obesity epidemic helped fuel the increase in some of these cancers, including those of the breast, kidney, endometrium and pancreas, the study authors noted. Karen Kaplan, latimes.com, "The death rate from cancer is falling for American men, women and children of all backgrounds," 22 May 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.

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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

The first known use of epidemic was in 1603

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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 \

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 \
variants: also epidemical \ -​i-​kəl \

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 \ 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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