\ 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 Macron and Le Pen is like choosing between the plague or cholera. Colette Davidson, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 Apr. 2022 Each plague is aimed at a particular Egyptian god — each of which represents values that are anathema to the world that the Torah would want to create. The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Apr. 2022 According to Gallup, in 2019, 65 percent of American adults drank alcohol; in 2021, even after the claustrophobia and worry of the plague years, that number went down to 60 percent. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, 19 Apr. 2022 But that’s also the new reality for blockbuster fare during a time of plague and geopolitical strife. Brent Lang, Variety, 15 Apr. 2022 A first week, then a second, each round of shelling a fresh plague. Washington Post, 15 Apr. 2022 When the citizens of Thebes turn to their leader for help lifting a plague, Oedipus finds himself at a difficult intersection of relationships, human nature and secrets. Domenica Bongiovanni, The Indianapolis Star, 14 Apr. 2022 Sierra Leone, a nation of eight million on the coast of Western Africa, feels like a land inexplicably spared as a plague passed overhead. Stephanie Nolen, New York Times, 23 Mar. 2022 Their 2018 album Prequelle told the prescient story of a plague that spreads not only disease across the world but contagious schools of thought. Joseph Hudak, Rolling Stone, 8 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb So, let flattened all issues that may plague my day. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day, 3 May 2022 Clear skies during harvesting also lower the risk from fungi that can plague wheat in the rainy south. Samantha Pearson, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2022 But the current energy model is not sustainable -- and will need to change quickly to mitigate the dangerous warming that could plague generations to come. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 20 Apr. 2022 Even so, the Timberline fails to fix other issues that plague the Explorer, such as its uncouth four-cylinder powertrain, slow-witted infotainment, and unimpressive interior materials. Greg Fink, Car and Driver, 6 Apr. 2022 By Facilitating Improved Business Strategies and Structures Normally, business restructuring begins with finding the business problems that plague an organization. Naveen Joshi, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2022 Problems continue to plague the popular Loggerhead Marinelife Center in South Florida with reports its entire medical staff will be gone by May. Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel, 15 Apr. 2022 And Parkland, an affluent suburban community, would become shorthand for the mass shootings that continue to plague the United States. Brittany Wallman,, 3 Apr. 2022 But some said more needs to be done, calling the law one step toward addressing issues that continue to plague communities of color, from police brutality to erosion of voting rights. Marc Ramirez, USA TODAY, 31 Mar. 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

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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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Last Updated

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Plague.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 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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