\ ˈplāg How to pronounce plague (audio) \

Definition of plague

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a disastrous evil or affliction : calamity
b : a destructively numerous influx or multiplication of a noxious animal : infestation a plague of locusts
2a : an epidemic disease causing a high rate of mortality : pestilence
b : a virulent contagious febrile disease that is caused by a bacterium (Yersinia pestis) and that occurs in bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic forms

called also black death

3a : a cause of irritation : nuisance
b : a sudden unwelcome outbreak a plague of burglaries


plagued; plaguing

Definition of plague (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to smite, infest, or afflict with or as if with disease, calamity, or natural evil
2a : to cause worry or distress to : hamper, burden
b : to disturb or annoy persistently

Other Words from plague


plaguer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for plague


worry, annoy, harass, harry, plague, pester, tease mean to disturb or irritate by persistent acts. worry implies an incessant goading or attacking that drives one to desperation. pursued a policy of worrying the enemy annoy implies disturbing one's composure or peace of mind by intrusion, interference, or petty attacks. you're doing that just to annoy me harass implies petty persecutions or burdensome demands that exhaust one's nervous or mental power. harassed on all sides by creditors harry may imply heavy oppression or maltreatment. the strikers had been harried by thugs plague implies a painful and persistent affliction. plagued all her life by poverty pester stresses the repetition of petty attacks. constantly pestered with trivial complaints tease suggests an attempt to break down one's resistance or rouse to wrath. children teased the dog

Examples of plague in a Sentence

Noun The country was hit by a plague of natural disasters that year. There has been a plague of bank robberies in the area. a plague that swept through the tribe in the 1600s Verb Computer viruses plague Internet users. Crime plagues the inner city. Drought and wildfires continue to plague the area. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Center doesn’t accept Medicare and Medicaid and avoids private insurance like the plague. Steve Forbes, Forbes, 20 May 2022 Marty Byrde, the man who used to avoid risk like the plague. Andy Meek, BGR, 23 Feb. 2022 Select areas on Lake Tahoe's south shore have been closed to the public after some chipmunks in the area tested positive for plague. Nicholas Rice,, 3 Aug. 2021 South Lake Tahoe, California — Officials are closing some areas on the south shore of Lake Tahoe after some chipmunks tested positive for plague. CBS News, 3 Aug. 2021 Officials are closing some areas on the south shore of Lake Tahoe after some chipmunks tested positive for plague. NBC News, 3 Aug. 2021 Colorado health officials expect to see fleas test positive for the plague during the summer. Kayla Rivas, Fox News, 23 July 2021 Unfortunately, there will never be a vaccine for the plague that is online coronavirus misinformation campaigns. Kiera Feldman, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2021 Characterization is stronger than the sci-fi world building, in contrast to the usual problems that plague genre shows. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 29 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Electric automaker Lucid on Thursday cut its 2022 vehicle production forecast for the second time this year, citing supply chain and logistics issues that continue to plague the EV upstart. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 4 Aug. 2022 Demonstrators, including many LGBTQ activists, say officials have yet to provide the necessary outreach to vulnerable populations as issues continue to plague the vaccine rollout. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 20 July 2022 People have long understood what ails their own communities and what the real solutions would be for the issues that plague their communities. Claire Babineaux-fontenot, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 June 2022 Flight status improves at Logan AirportCancellations, delays continue to plague holiday weekend air travel After another bad weekend, what is happening to JetBlue? Andrew Brinker,, 23 June 2022 And supply disruptions continue to plague businesses and consumers. Hamza Shaban, Anchorage Daily News, 16 June 2022 By taking passwords out of the equation, consumers will be protected from phishing and other remote attacks that continue to plague today’s networked economy—and businesses will be freed from the liability of maintaining them on their servers. Max Eddy, PCMAG, 7 June 2022 Drought is expected to continue to plague the region. Jane Recker, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 June 2022 The McKinney fire is the latest to plague California this summer, following the Oak, the Washburn and the Electra fires that have forced thousands of evacuations and burnt tens of thousands of acres in northern California. Carlie Porterfield, Forbes, 31 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plague.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of plague


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for plague


Middle English plage, from Late Latin plaga, from Latin, blow; akin to Latin plangere to strike — more at plaint

Learn More About plague

Time Traveler for plague

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near plague



plague grasshopper

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Statistics for plague

Last Updated

14 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Plague.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for plague


\ ˈplāg How to pronounce plague (audio) \

Kids Definition of plague

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that causes much distress a plague of locusts
2 : a disease that causes death and spreads quickly to a large number of people


plagued; plaguing

Kids Definition of plague (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to affect with disease or trouble Fleas plague the poor dog.
2 : to cause worry or distress to I'm plagued by guilt.


\ ˈplāg How to pronounce plague (audio) \

Medical Definition of plague

1 : an epidemic disease causing a high rate of mortality : pestilence a plague of cholera
2 : a virulent contagious febrile disease that is caused by a bacterium of the genus Yersinia (Y. pestis synonym Pasteurella pestis), that occurs in bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic forms, and that is usually transmitted from rats to humans by the bite of infected fleas (as in bubonic plague) or directly from person to person (as in pneumonic plague)

called also black death

More from Merriam-Webster on plague

Nglish: Translation of plague for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of plague for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about plague


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