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

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 And in 1982, former Olympian Tom Waddell – who would die from AIDS at the height of the epidemic five years later – helped found the first Gay Games for LGBT athletes. Zoe Sayler, Smithsonian, "A Brief History of Openly Gay Olympians," 4 Dec. 2014 These, alas, are often taken out of context, something that seems epidemic among conservative social media types who aspire to political office. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "This Is an American Prison in 2017," 26 Oct. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Opioid drugs — including pain pills, heroin and the heavy-duty painkiller fentanyl — have spawned the deadliest epidemic of drug overdoses in U.S. history. Washington Post, "‘It keeps us safe’: An NYC bathroom set up to stem overdoses," 13 July 2018 The technology’s potential to create vaccines for fighting epidemics is among its most promising applications. Laine Higgins, WSJ, "This Company Aims to Deliver DNA on Demand With Its Biological Fax Machine," 12 July 2018 Mixed messaging possible Communities are desperate for solutions to prevent the next generation from falling into addictiongiven Kentucky’s — and the nation’s — ever-worsening heroin epidemic. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, "Do those real-life addiction stories really keep kids off drugs?," 12 July 2018 Earlier this year, President Trump announced new plans to battle the country's growing opioid epidemic. Terace Garnier, Fox News, "NC town battles opioid epidemic by using robots to test people’s poop," 12 July 2018 At the height of HIV/AIDS epidemic, there was a lot of fear and stigma. Rob Ledonne, sandiegouniontribune.com, "San Diego Pride 2018: Where music and LGBTQ activism go hand-in-hand," 11 July 2018 Two of the Hello Girls died in France from the Spanish flu epidemic. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin documentarian sparks effort to honor World War I female phone operators with Congressional Gold Medal," 10 July 2018 Middletown is joining a growing list of communities suing pharmaceutical companies over the costs associated with the country’s opioid epidemic. Shawn R. Beals, Courant Community, "Middletown Becomes Latest Town To Sue Drug Companies," 6 July 2018 One exception is the proviso, codified in international law, to avoid potentially harmful interplanetary exchanges of biological material that could spark virulent epidemics on Earth or wipe out fragile alien biospheres. Leonard David, Scientific American, "As Space Becomes a Busy Place, NASA Bolsters Its Planet-Contamination Police," 3 July 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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Comments on epidemic

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occurring twice a year or every two years

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