Definition of epidemic in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɛpɪˈdɛmɪk/


1A widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time: a flu epidemic
More example sentences
  • The hugely controversial contiguous cull of livestock to combat the foot-and-mouth epidemic was stoutly defended by the Government.
  • The current cholera epidemic sweeping the nation needs the urgent attention of both authorities and the affected communities.
  • I remembered hearing about the cholera epidemic which had struck just before I was born.
outbreak, plague, scourge, infestation;
widespread illness/disease;
Medicine  pandemic, epizootic
formal recrudescence, boutade
1.1A sudden, widespread occurrence of an undesirable phenomenon: an epidemic of violent crime
More example sentences
  • Hunger and oppression have spawned an epidemic of violent crime.
  • I do not mean that the recent phenomenon of substance abuse epidemics and passive welfare has turned good health into bad.
  • We have a sudden epidemic of obesity that has emerged over the past 15 years.
spate, rash, wave, explosion, eruption, outbreak, outburst, flare-up, craze;
flood, torrent, burst, blaze, flurry;
upsurge, upswing, upturn, increase, growth, rise, mushrooming
rare ebullition, boutade


Of the nature of an epidemic: shoplifting has reached epidemic proportions Compare with endemic, pandemic, epizootic.
More example sentences
  • Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that has reached epidemic proportions.
  • HIV has reached epidemic proportions in India.
  • Although Type 2 diabetes mellitus appears in almost epidemic proportions our knowledge of the mechanism of this disease is limited.
rife, rampant, widespread, wide-ranging, extensive, sweeping, penetrating, pervading;
global, universal, inescapable, ubiquitous;
prevalent, predominant;
Medicine  endemic, pandemic, epizootic





Early 17th century (as an adjective): from French épidémique, from épidémie, via late Latin from Greek epidēmia 'prevalence of disease', from epidēmios 'prevalent', from epi 'upon' + dēmos 'the people'.

  • democracy from late 16th century:

    The word democracy came directly from French in the mid 16th century, but goes back to Greek dēmokratia, from dēmos ‘the people’ and kratia ‘power, rule’. Demos is also the source of demagogue (mid 17th century) where it is combined with agōgos ‘leading’, and epidemic (early 17th century) which comes from epidēmia ‘the prevalence of disease’ which goes back to epi ‘upon’ and dēmos ‘the people’.

Words that rhyme with epidemic

academic, alchemic, endemic, pandemic, polemic, totemic

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: epi|dem¦ic

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