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en·​dem·​ic en-ˈde-mik How to pronounce endemic (audio)
: belonging or native to a particular people or country
: characteristic of or prevalent in a particular field, area, or environment
problems endemic to translation
the self-indulgence endemic in the film industry
: restricted or peculiar to a locality or region
endemic diseases
an endemic species
endemically adverb
endemicity noun
endemism noun


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en·​dem·​ic en-ˈde-mik How to pronounce endemic (audio)
: an organism that is restricted or peculiar to a locality or region : an endemic organism

Did you know?

Ever wonder how endemic ended up in the English language? Endemic made its way into English via French and New Latin and likely has its ultimate origin in the Greek adjective éndēmos, a word with multiple uses, among which is one describing a disease confined to one area. Éndēmos was formed from en- ( “in”) and a form of the noun dêmos, meaning “district, country, people.” That word was also key to the formation of the earlier word on which éndēmos was modeled: epidēmia, meaning “disease affecting a large number of individuals.” English adopted epidemic (also via French) in the early 17th century, but endemic didn’t become, uh, endemic until a century and a half later. (The now too-familiar relation pandemic slipped into the language in the mid 17th.) In current use, endemic characterizes diseases that are generally found in a particular area—malaria, for example, is said to be endemic to tropical and subtropical regions—while epidemic indicates a sudden, severe outbreak within that region or group. Endemic is also used by biologists to characterize plant and animal species that are found only in a given area.

Choose the Right Synonym for endemic

native, indigenous, endemic, aboriginal mean belonging to a locality.

native implies birth or origin in a place or region and may suggest compatibility with it.

native tribal customs

indigenous applies to that which is not only native but which, as far as can be determined, has never been introduced or brought from elsewhere.

indigenous plants

endemic implies being peculiar to a region.

a disease endemic in Africa

aboriginal implies having no known others preceding in occupancy of a particular region.

the aboriginal peoples of Australia

Example Sentences

Adjective Divorce has become so endemic in our society that a whole lore has risen up around it: that divorce is a temporary crisis; that so many children have experienced their parents' divorce that children nowadays do not worry much about it; that in fact it makes things easier, and it is itself a mere rite of passage; that if the parents feel better, so will the children. Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, New Republic, 6 May 2002
Situated only 250 miles off the coast of Africa, Madagascar is biologically unique. Not only does it have a rich animal and plant life, it also houses a huge number of endemic species found nowhere else on earth. Jim Milliot et al., Publishers Weekly, 15 May 2000
The rap performers I enjoy are those who emphasize production values, songcraft and that quality of playfulness endemic to all good pop. Francis Davis, Atlantic, October 1993
the fish is not an endemic species of the lake, and it is rapidly devouring the native trout population
Recent Examples on the Web
Martin Ficken, resident director at the veterinary medical diagnostic laboratory at Texas A&M in Gonzales, said the avian flu will most likely be endemic, meaning regularly occurring. Elena Bruess, San Antonio Express-News, 1 Mar. 2023 The biodiversity of Faial is rich: 855 vascular plant species, 57 of which are endemic. Cecilia Rodriguez, Forbes, 10 Feb. 2023 That blindness is endemic, in the Met and everywhere else. Holly Thomas, CNN, 20 Jan. 2023 Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan are the last two countries where the wild poliovirus is still endemic, and the campaign is going full bore to wipe it out by the end of this year. Byleslie Roberts, science.org, 16 Jan. 2023 Even when the human-rights violations are endemic, there is usually a calculation by the chief of staff of the Israeli Army responsible to the minister of defense as to how far the Army can go before an eruption by the Palestinians would take place. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 4 Jan. 2023 The approval of the vaccine, called Qdenga, is likely to speed its review in many countries outside Europe, such as Mexico, Argentina and Thailand, where dengue is endemic. Jared S. Hopkins, WSJ, 8 Dec. 2022 In neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, countries where violence against women is endemic, activists have held up posters of their Iranian sisters. Azadeh Moaveni, Time, 7 Dec. 2022 Many of China’s wild species are endemic, meaning that they are found nowhere else in the world. Vanessa Hull, The Conversation, 29 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History



borrowed from French & New Latin; French endémique, borrowed from New Latin endēmicus, from Medieval Latin *endēmia "disease fixed in one locality" + New Latin -icus -ic entry 1; Medieval Latin *endēmia, probably from Greek éndēmos "at home, living in a place, native, confined to one area (of a disease, in galen)" (from en- en- entry 2 + -dēmos, adjective derivative of dêmos "district, country, people") on the model of epidēmia "disease affecting a large number of individuals" — more at demo-, epidemic entry 1

Note: Medieval Latin *endēmia is presumed on the basis of Middle French endemie, occurring in Thomas Le Forestier's Le regime contre epidimie et pestilence (Rouen, 1495) (see Revue de linguistique romane, vol. 36 [1972], p. 231).


derivative of endemic entry 1

First Known Use


1759, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1926, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of endemic was in 1759


Dictionary Entries Near endemic

Cite this Entry

“Endemic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/endemic. Accessed 22 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


: originating or growing or found especially and often only in a certain locality or region
endemic diseases
an endemic plant

Medical Definition


1 of 2 adjective
en·​dem·​ic en-ˈdem-ik, in- How to pronounce endemic (audio)
: restricted or peculiar to a locality or region
endemic diseases
an endemic species
compare epidemic sense 1, sporadic sense 1
endemically adverb


2 of 2 noun
: an endemic disease or an instance of its occurrence
: an endemic organism

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