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 epidemic (audio) \ adjective
epidemically \ ˌe-​pə-​ˈde-​mi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce epidemic (audio) \ adverb
epidemicity \ ˌe-​pə-​də-​ˈmi-​sə-​tē How to pronounce epidemic (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 Telangana has not enacted strict anti-epidemic measures, only a curfew at night. CNN, "The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines," 28 Apr. 2021 Resistance doctors were implementing wide-ranging public health and anti-epidemic programs, and even an underground medical university. Gary Stix, Scientific American, "A Biologist Reconstructs the Grotesque Efficiency of the Nazis’ Killing Machine," 10 Jan. 2019 But the country has seemingly been spared from a major wave of infections, thanks in part to stringent anti-epidemic measures, controls on the movement of people and the border lockdown. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "North Korea's 'dark' fishing fleet went quiet in 2020, likely pressuring the country's imperiled food supply," 20 Jan. 2021 North Korea is building anti-epidemic measures along its borders to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country, state media reported Sunday. NBC News, "Covid live updates: Global deaths inch towards 1.5 million as U.S. cities increase restrictions," 30 Nov. 2020 North Korean state media regularly carries pieces reminding its people on the importance of its emergency anti-epidemic campaign. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "Kim Jong Un is cutting off his economic lifeline, China, to stave off Covid-19," 29 Nov. 2020 The economy may be able to return to pre-epidemic levels by the end of next year or early 2022, Scholz said. Mariajose Vera, Bloomberg.com, "Merkel Pledges to Strengthen Germany’s Public Health Service," 5 Sep. 2020 Collier said that overall, activity on Dauphin Island had rebounded to very near pre-epidemic levels. al, "No music, no lies, just fishing: Alabama deep sea rodeo adapts to COVID-19," 23 June 2020 In recent days, Beijing had already reinstated some anti-epidemic controls. BostonGlobe.com, "Schools shut in Beijing as coronavirus flares," 17 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun New declarations would mark the third full state of emergency in Japan since the epidemic began. NBC News, "Japan eyes state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka regions amid virus surge," 21 Apr. 2021 Dunn, 39, joined the state health department in 2014 on assignment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an epidemic intelligence service officer. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Angela Dunn is quitting as state epidemiologist to lead Salt Lake County Health Department," 20 Apr. 2021 Behind closed doors, Kentucky's opioid epidemic is wreaking havoc. Deborah Yetter, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky among top states where overdose deaths have spiked during COVID-19 pandemic," 19 Apr. 2021 The mass movement of millions of people taught the Civil War generation that epidemic diseases flourish when people travel and gather. Jonathan S. Jones, STAT, "Lessons learned — and forgotten — from the horrific epidemics of the U.S. Civil War," 18 Apr. 2021 In contrast to the early days of the HIV epidemic, when the disease was often deadly, the modern era is marked by highly effective treatments that allow people with HIV to live near-normal life spans. Nara Schoenberg, chicagotribune.com, "Illinois law aimed at preventing people with HIV from transmitting the virus has been criticized as unfair and unscientific. Activists are pushing for a full repeal.," 17 Apr. 2021 But with the world staggered by a relentless epidemic, even temporarily stopping the use of a highly effective vaccine, which many countries had planned to deploy, is a fraught decision. New York Times, "‘We Were Flying Blind’: A Dr.’s Account of a Woman’s J.&J. Vaccine-Related Blood Clot Case," 16 Apr. 2021 Whitmer’s go-to response during COVID surges in the past twelve months has been to lock down the state through executive and epidemic orders. Ingrid Jacques, National Review, "Gretchen Whitmer Resists Biden Administration on Coronavirus Lockdowns," 16 Apr. 2021 In a flight of romantic and literary fantasy, there is no life-threatening global epidemic. Jen Chaney, Vulture, "Younger Goes Full Rom-Com in Its Farewell Season," 15 Apr. 2021

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

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Epidemic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epidemic. Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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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 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 epidemic (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 epidemic (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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