pestilence

noun
pes·​ti·​lence | \ ˈpe-stə-lən(t)s How to pronounce pestilence (audio) \

Definition of pestilence

1 : a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating especially : bubonic plague
2 : something that is destructive or pernicious I'll pour this pestilence into his ear— William Shakespeare

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Synonyms for pestilence

Synonyms

pest, plague

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Examples of pestilence in a Sentence

After years of war and pestilence, few people remained in the city. the fear that terrorists could unleash a pestilence that would wreak unspeakable havoc

Recent Examples on the Web

Today’s environmental laws have restored the old normal, making drought, disease, pestilence and fire a constant scourge of our forests. Tom Mcclintock, WSJ, "Only Good Management Can Prevent Forest Fires," 17 Dec. 2018 Lead was crucial in the production of silver, which eventually spurred an economic resurgence as the sky cleared and the pestilence waned. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Researchers Identify 536 A.D. as The Absolute Worst Year Ever," 20 Nov. 2018 And yes, a pestilence-ravaged, emaciated Prior, abandoned by Louis, his squeamish lover, can have his ceiling crack in two as an Angel (Francesca Faridany) bursts through, endowing him with a terrible, incomprehensible prophecy. Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle, "Berkeley Rep revives ‘Angels in America,’ in all its soaring spirit," 29 Apr. 2018 Agriculture has always been a business of vast uncertainties—uncontrollable sunlight and rainfall, as well as unpredictable pestilence and disease. Alan Murray, Fortune, "China Surprise, EU Tariffs, Browder Arrest: CEO Daily for May 30, 2018," 30 May 2018 Like a perennial pestilence, a familiar set of naysayers emerge, looking to get their names in the headlines. Al Saracevic, San Francisco Chronicle, "I tell ya ... the Warriors don’t get no respect," 3 May 2018 Cell phones raise, hoping to capture a moment of pestilence. Alex Prewitt, SI.com, "The NHL Penalty Box Is a Small Glass Case Made for Oddities," 19 Apr. 2018 The swan-boys fly away while their sister, Eliza, is dispatched to a remote village away from the pestilence. WSJ, "Children’s Books: Face-to-Face With the Classics," 23 Mar. 2018 The series of epidemics, including the one in 1545, are simply referred to as cocoliztli, the generic Aztec word for pestilence. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Gut bacteria linked to cataclysmic epidemic that wiped out 16th-century Mexico," 16 Jan. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for pestilence

The first known use of pestilence was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for pestilence

pestilence

noun

English Language Learners Definition of pestilence

literary : a disease that causes many people to die

pestilence

noun
pes·​ti·​lence | \ ˈpe-stə-ləns How to pronounce pestilence (audio) \

Kids Definition of pestilence

: a contagious usually fatal disease that spreads quickly

pestilence

noun
pes·​ti·​lence | \ ˈpes-tə-lən(t)s How to pronounce pestilence (audio) \

Medical Definition of pestilence

: a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating specifically : bubonic plague

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Comments on pestilence

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an act or instance of returning to life

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