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 When a disease reaches epidemic levels, the first obligation for leaders in any country is to protect their own people. Andrew Natsios, The Conversation, "The silent threat of the coronavirus: America’s dependence on Chinese pharmaceuticals," 11 Feb. 2020 Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. NBC News, "Senate OKs Trump's FDA nominee despite unclear vaping agenda," 12 Dec. 2019 Officials also say the number of evictions is soaring to an epidemic level as rents continue to rise. Chabeli Herrera, orlandosentinel.com, "Their teen daughter sleeps in the living room. How America’s worst affordable housing shortage is hurting tourism workers," 10 Dec. 2019 Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. Matthew Perrone, SFChronicle.com, "DC joins lawsuits against Juul," 26 Nov. 2019 Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. BostonGlobe.com, "WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday heard opposing viewpoints in the debate over youth vaping but offered no insight into where he would ultimately come down on the issue after promising two months ago that he would ban most flavored e-cigarettes but later backtracking.," 22 Nov. 2019 Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. Washington Post, "Trump hears opposing viewpoints in debate over youth vaping," 22 Nov. 2019 Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. Darlene Superville, Twin Cities, "Trump backing off plan to ban flavored e-cigarettes because he fears losing votes," 18 Nov. 2019 Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. Matthew Perrone, SFChronicle.com, "DC joins lawsuits against Juul," 26 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Fentanyl still reigns as the biggest killer during this drug epidemic in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region. Terry Demio, Cincinnati.com, "What meth does to your body and why it makes people so manic," 13 Feb. 2020 Type A is more a more serious form of the virus known to cause pandemics, or global outbreaks of the disease, while Type B evolves more slowly and is known to cause epidemics, or outbreaks in communities. Dana Branham, Dallas News, "Dallas Catholic school closes for several days to stop flu from spreading," 13 Feb. 2020 But there was also a focus on the callousness and inhumanity of Chinese culture, which allowed this epidemic to turn into a pandemic. Connie Wang, refinery29.com, "Closeness In The Age Of Coronavirus," 10 Feb. 2020 China has struggled to contain the epidemic, which has spread to more than 40,000 people and has caused the government to close down cities, quarantining millions of people from travel and day-to-day activities. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "Coronavirus death toll tops 1,000 as China quarantines," 10 Feb. 2020 The workplace has not been spared in this epidemic, of course. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "The healthiest way to make friends at work," 7 Feb. 2020 The numbers will go up in the U.K., U.S., western Europe, but there seems to be enough warning and advance to potentially halt this epidemic in the U.S. and in Europe. Carolyn Y. Johnson, Washington Post, "The biggest questions about the new coronavirus and what we know so far," 7 Feb. 2020 Is this epidemic still going to be going on in a year? Helen Branswell, STAT, "In effort to develop coronavirus vaccine, outbreak expert sees ‘hardest problem’ of his career," 6 Feb. 2020 Yet surprisingly, interspersed with her references to domestic history — the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the CIA’s involvement in the crack cocaine epidemic, the rise of gerrymandering — are election ballots and design motifs from Greece. Sharon Mizota, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Hank Willis Thomas, Tomashi Jackson and a different kind of color theory," 6 Feb. 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

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Epidemic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epidemic. Accessed 26 Feb. 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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