pandemic

adjective
pan·​dem·​ic | \ pan-ˈde-mik How to pronounce pandemic (audio) \

Definition of pandemic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population pandemic malaria The 1918 flu was pandemic and claimed millions of lives.

pandemic

noun
pan·​dem·​ic | \ pan-ˈde-mik How to pronounce pandemic (audio) \

Definition of pandemic (Entry 2 of 2)

: an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population : a pandemic outbreak of a disease

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Frequently Asked Questions About pandemic

What is the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic?

An epidemic is an outbreak of disease that spreads quickly and affects many individuals at the same time. A pandemic is a kind of epidemic: one which has spread across a wider geographic range than an epidemic, and which has affected a significant portion of the population.

When does an outbreak become a pandemic?

An outbreak is “a sudden rise in the incidence of a disease” and typically is confined to a localized area or a specific group of people. Should an outbreak become more severe, and less localized, it may be characterized as an epidemic. If it broadens still further, and affects a significant portion of the population, the disease may be characterized as a pandemic.

What are some examples of pandemics?

There have been a number of pandemics since the beginning of the 20th century: the H1N1 pandemic of 2009, the Spanish flu of 1918/19 (which did not originate in Spain), as well as flu pandemics in 1957 and 1968, and now the COVID-19 pandemic of 2019/20. Among the best known pandemics is the Black Death, a plague which spread across Asia and Europe in the middle of the 14th century.

Examples of pandemic in a Sentence

Noun … globalization, the most thoroughgoing socioeconomic upheaval since the Industrial Revolution, which has set off a pandemic of retrogressive nationalism, regional separatism, and religious extremism. — Martin Filler, New York Review of Books, 24 Sept. 2009 … it also hopes to utilize this cultural investigation to better understand strategies to reduce the massive pandemic we now understand cigarette smoking to produce. — Allan M. Brandt, The Cigarette Century, 2007 There is evidence that this gambling pandemic is going global. — Gerri Hirshey, New York Times Magazine, 17 July 1994 In ten years that it raged, this pandemic took or ravaged the lives of nearly five million people before it disappeared, as mysteriously and suddenly as it had arrived, in 1927. — Oliver Sacks, Awakenings, 1973 The 1918 flu pandemic claimed millions of lives.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The availability of tests and test kits has been a critical problem with the administration’s pandemic response since the beginning. Amy Goldstein, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump administration vows to distribute 100 million swabs to states by year’s end," 24 May 2020 Several city businesses closed during the pandemic measures. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al, "Cities, counties struggling with loss of revenue, need for services," 24 May 2020 Last week, the World Health Organization's top official in Burundi was kicked out amid concerns about the pandemic response. The Christian Science Monitor, "Burundi holds high-stakes presidential election amid virus," 21 May 2020 The Trump administration has been accused of failing to show global leadership during the pandemic response. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Trump wants to host G-7 leaders at Camp David in sign of 'normalization'," 20 May 2020 The public has seen his government as slow and out of touch in its pandemic response, surveys have showed, and the virus has shaken the finances of households and businesses. Jon Herskovitz, Bloomberg.com, "Support for Japan’s Abe at Two-Year Low Over Virus, Prosecutor Bill," 19 May 2020 Leaning on the evidence If humans didn’t insist on being quite so messily human, pandemic response would be much simpler. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Humans are complicated—do we need behavioral science to get through this?," 16 May 2020 Tom Frieden, who directed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the 2014 Ebola outbreak and now spearheads Resolve to Save Lives, a health initiative focussed on global pandemic response, said. Jina Moore, The New Yorker, "What African Nations Are Teaching the West About Fighting the Coronavirus," 15 May 2020 The public face of the federal pandemic response since then has been the White House Coronavirus Task Force chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. Popular Science, "We have the tools to contain COVID-19 misinformation, we just aren’t using them," 14 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Samuel Aranda for The New York Times This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Raphael Minder, New York Times, "José María Galante, Dogged Pursuer of Justice for Franco’s Victims, Dies at 71," 27 May 2020 In this pandemic, a new openness about talking about mental health issues could help. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "‘Not Priests, Nor Crosses, Nor Bells.’ The Tragic History of How Pandemics Have Disrupted Mourning," 27 May 2020 Bryan Hammons faced a difficult choice over whether to keep his St. Petersburg, Fla., plumbing business open during the pandemic. Anne Michaud, WSJ, "After Working Through Lockdown, This Plumber’s Safety Protocols Are Now Standard," 27 May 2020 While golf lends itself to a game that can be played during the pandemic, there were a few little changes. Kyle Neddenriep, The Indianapolis Star, "Golf returns to Crooked Stick, and John Daly II walks in dad's footsteps," 27 May 2020 The theory helps explain the increased popularity of leaders around the world during this pandemic. Hemant Kakkar, Scientific American, "Why Trump’s Popularity Surge Faded So Quickly," 27 May 2020 Ronald McDonald House of Eastern Wisconsin decided early on in the pandemic to limit the number of guests who could stay there. Evan Casey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After facing tough setbacks, here's how these area nonprofits are changing how they operate during the coronavirus pandemic," 26 May 2020 The antiviral drug remdesivir has emerged as one of just a few options doctors have to treat the sickest COVID-19 patients, but nearly a month after federal regulators fast-tracked its use in the pandemic, its availability remains scarce. Lauren Caruba, ExpressNews.com, "With coronavirus treatment drug still in short supply, San Antonio hospitals confront rationing it to patients," 26 May 2020 It has been amplified especially by Republicans as President Donald Trump has sought to blame China as the main culprit in the coronavirus pandemic. David Westin, Bloomberg.com, "Pelosi Says House Will Review Bill to Delist Chinese Companies," 26 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pandemic.' 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 pandemic

Adjective

1666, in the meaning defined above

Noun

circa 1853, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pandemic

Adjective

Greek pándēmos "of all the people, public, common, (of diseases) widespread (in galen)" (from pan- pan- + -dēmos, adjective derivative of dêmos "district, country, people") + -ic entry 1 — more at {mat|demo-}

Noun

noun derivative of pandemic entry 1, after epidemic entry 2

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Time Traveler for pandemic

Time Traveler

The first known use of pandemic was in 1666

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Statistics for pandemic

Last Updated

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pandemic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pandemic. Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for pandemic

pandemic

noun
How to pronounce pandemic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pandemic

medical : an occurrence in which a disease spreads very quickly and affects a large number of people over a wide area or throughout the world

pandemic

adjective
pan·​dem·​ic | \ pan-ˈdem-ik How to pronounce pandemic (audio) \

Medical Definition of pandemic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population pandemic malaria pandemic influenza

pandemic

noun

Medical Definition of pandemic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a pandemic outbreak of a disease

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Comments on pandemic

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