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Line breaks: epi|dem¦ic
Pronunciation: /ɛpɪˈdɛmɪk

Definition of epidemic in English:


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
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.
flood, torrent, burst, blaze, flurry;
upsurge, upswing, upturn, increase, growth, rise, mushrooming


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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;


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'.

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