plague

1 of 2

noun

1
a
: a disastrous evil or affliction : calamity
b
: a destructively numerous influx or multiplication of a noxious animal : infestation
a plague of locusts
2
a
: 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

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

plague

2 of 2

verb

plagued; plaguing

transitive verb

1
: to smite, infest, or afflict with or as if with disease, calamity, or natural evil
2
a
: to cause worry or distress to : hamper, burden
b
: to disturb or annoy persistently
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
What Are the Symptoms of Plague? Bubonic is the most common type of plague. Stephanie Brown, Verywell Health, 21 Feb. 2024 The initial telltale symptom of the plague is an extremely swollen lymph node, according to Adalja. Melissa Rudy, Fox News, 16 Feb. 2024 The news comes as health officials in Oregon recently confirmed a rare case of human plague in a resident who was likely infected by their pet cat. CBS News, 13 Feb. 2024 Humans can catch plague by being bitten by infected fleas or by close contact with an infected animal, the agency said. Don Sweeney, Sacramento Bee, 12 Feb. 2024 People who are exposed to the plague generally begin experiencing symptoms — including swollen lymph nodes (buboes), fever, nausea, weakness, chills and muscle aches — within two to eight days of exposure. Sabienna Bowman, Peoplemag, 12 Feb. 2024 El Niño and La Niña, volcanic eruptions, plagues and pandemics, not to mention sheer random chance — influence the planet’s precise temperatures year to year. Raymond Zhong, New York Times, 8 Feb. 2024 Scientists believe rising sea temps have driven the increasing impacts from invasive smothering algae and helped spread coral-damaging diseases, from black-band and white-band disease to white plague and stony coral disease. Alie Skowronski, Sun Sentinel, 11 Jan. 2024 Joel, a hardened survivor living in a Boston quarantine zone years after a zombie-like plague ravaged America, is tasked with smuggling the young Ellie, who's mysteriously immune to the virus, to a rebel group across the country. Nick Romano, EW.com, 9 Jan. 2024
Verb
Several issues have plagued Aduhelm since before its rollout, including weak evidence for efficacy, serious side effect risks, and a high price point. Fran Kritz, Verywell Health, 8 Feb. 2024 The Mars Sample Return mission, a joint project with the European Space Agency, has been plagued with delays and cost overruns. Corinne Purtill, Los Angeles Times, 7 Feb. 2024 But this year, the pop dance category eradicated the strange-bedfellows phenomenon that’s plagued the dance/electronic recording category since it was introduced to the awards in 1998. Katie Bain, Billboard, 6 Feb. 2024 As Navarro and Danvers investigate, Navarro is plagued by hallucinations and flashbacks to her time serving in combat overseas — the same breaks from reality haunting her younger sister Julia (Aka Niviâna). Alison Herman, Variety, 5 Feb. 2024 An unprecedented surge in gang violence is plaguing Haiti, with the number of victims killed, injured and kidnapped more than doubling last year, a U.N. special envoy reported to the U.N. Security Council last month. Joe Heim, Washington Post, 2 Feb. 2024 These reservations are plagued with the same issues as other isolated or rural communities—underfunded and under-trained law enforcement, poverty, addiction—but the problems are compounded by the dysfunctions of the American legal system and the legacies of colonialism. Rachel Monroe, The New Yorker, 1 Feb. 2024 Ransomware attacks and other hacking threats have for years plagued state and local governments, which often don’t have the money and personnel to deal with the threat. Alta Spells, CNN, 30 Jan. 2024 High-sugar foods and drinks plague our kids’ diets. Amanda C. Fifi, M.d., Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near plague

Cite this Entry

“Plague.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plague. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

plague

1 of 2 noun
1
a
: a disastrous evil
b
: a large number of destructive pests
a plague of locusts
2
: an epidemic disease causing a high rate of death : pestilence
especially : a serious disease that is caused by a bacterium, occurs or has occurred in several forms including bubonic plague, and is usually passed to human beings from infected rodents and especially rats by the bite of a flea or is passed directly from person to person
3
: a cause or occasion of annoyance : nuisance

plague

2 of 2 verb
plagued; plaguing
1
: to strike or afflict with or as if with disease or evil
2
: to cause worry or distress to
plagued by a sense of guilt

Medical Definition

plague

noun
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

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