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 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 Yet there seem to be some crucial differences between the virus that caused an epidemic 17 years ago and the one causing a global pandemic today. TheWeek, "Closing in on the new coronavirus," 28 Mar. 2020 South Korea, which had an explosive outbreak that began in February, is aggressively battering down its epidemic curve. Helen Branswell, STAT, "Understanding what works: How some countries are beating back the coronavirus," 20 Mar. 2020 The job fair had strict epidemic prevention measures. Los Angeles Times, "‘It’s too hard to live this year’: China’s workers struggle with coronavirus unemployment," 23 Apr. 2020 As a safety measure, only epidemic investigators at KCDC can access the location information and once the COVID-19 outbreak is over, the personal information used for the contact tracing will be purged. Michael Ahn, The Conversation, "How South Korea flattened the coronavirus curve with technology," 21 Apr. 2020 Some medical institutions were not linked to an epidemic information network and failed to report data in time, Xinhua said. NBC News, "Wuhan, where COVID-19 epidemic began, raises death toll by 1,290," 17 Apr. 2020 The prior pessimism of most epidemic models will either be confirmed or refuted, depending on the percentages of Americans who have already weathered the virus. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "We Are Approaching COVID-19 Gut-Check Time," 16 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This city has one of the worst local covid-19 epidemics in the country. The Economist, "Suffer the little children Thoughts that the young are not much affected by SARS-CoV-2 look wrong," 23 May 2020 At the height of the epidemic in Newburyport, there were shipowners pushing to open the wharves and the warehouses and get back to business. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Michigander's historic novel about 1796 epidemic sounds eerily familiar," 18 May 2020 Given that none of the president’s assistants, the people with direct access to him via memo or meeting, have any scientific expertise, his nonresponse, even complacency, in the face of the emerging epidemic in China is sadly understandable. Jason Karlawish, STAT, "A pandemic plan was in place. Trump abandoned it — and science — in the face of Covid-19," 17 May 2020 This process was fast-tracked during and after the Ebola epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016. Popular Science, "Everything to know about remdesivir, the most promising COVID-19 treatment yet," 1 May 2020 By Stephen Lam / Special To The Chronicle The starting gun Krogan first heard about the epidemic in China late last year. Jason Fagone, San Francisco Chronicle, "Chasing a killer," 1 May 2020 By showing how people distribute across these categories across time, the model simulates the natural course of a COVID-19 epidemic without interventions. Esther Landhuis, Popular Mechanics, "These Data Science Wizards Tell Us What's Really Happening With Coronavirus," 28 Apr. 2020 No jurisdiction has been as aggressive as New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the epidemic, in revising its death counts from those early weeks. Washington Post, "U.S. deaths soared in early weeks of pandemic, far exceeding number attributed to covid-19," 27 Apr. 2020 No jurisdiction has been as aggressive as New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the epidemic, in revising its death counts from those early weeks. Anchorage Daily News, "US deaths soared in early weeks of pandemic, far exceeding number attributed to COVID-19," 27 Apr. 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

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Epidemic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epidemic. Accessed 4 Jun. 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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