pestilence

noun

pes·​ti·​lence ˈpe-stə-lən(t)s How to pronounce pestilence (audio)
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 earWilliam Shakespeare

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 Luke called the vultures back and reshot the scene with the jetsam of pestilence. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, 6 Nov. 2023 His study came on the heels of another one published last November, which found that nearly a third of southern Sierra forests were killed by wildfires, drought and pestilence over the last decade. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, 15 Aug. 2023 Florida does not have a governor, but pestilence does, and in this respect DeSantis has served his only non-Trump constituency with an ardor unparalleled in his career. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 10 Aug. 2021 But only the most primitive imagined that the gods of the sun and goddesses of the harvest, or spirits of pestilence and storm, had any serious roles to play. Ben Ehrenreich, The New Republic, 10 May 2023 Although citizens and not migrants, the trio are immediately branded by many in the community as intruders or, worse, emissaries of a coming pestilence. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 27 Apr. 2023 Yet America’s historical memory quickly forgot slavery’s violence, war’s pestilence, and the cowardice of white supremacy in favor of a new story, one rooted in efforts at national reconciliation at the expense of Black dignity and through the denial of Black citizenship. Time, 15 Sep. 2022 Forget famine, pestilence, destruction and death. Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News, 13 July 2022 Instead, Edmonds argues throughout for the richness of magical knowledge systems and points out that entreating supernatural powers to grant a wish, protect a child, avoid pestilence, flood, drought, fire, and war are just as much the business of official prayers as the object of incantations. Marina Warner, The New York Review of Books, 2 July 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pestilence.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near pestilence

Cite this Entry

“Pestilence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pestilence. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

pestilence

noun
pes·​ti·​lence ˈpes-tə-lən(t)s How to pronounce pestilence (audio)
: a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that spreads quickly and is often fatal
especially : bubonic plague

Medical Definition

pestilence

noun
pes·​ti·​lence ˈpes-tə-lən(t)s How to pronounce pestilence (audio)
: a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating
specifically : bubonic plague

More from Merriam-Webster on pestilence

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