Definition of plague in English:


Line breaks: plague
Pronunciation: /pleɪg


  • 1 (usually the plague) A contagious bacterial disease characterized by fever and delirium, typically with the formation of buboes (see bubonic plague) and sometimes infection of the lungs ( pneumonic plague).
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    • Person-to-person spread of bubonic or septicemic plague does not occur; however, pneumonic plague is highly contagious.
    • Approximately 5% to 15% of patients suffering from bubonic plague will develop secondary pneumonic plague.
    • Clinical features of pneumonic plague include fever, cough with mucopurulent sputum (gram-negative rods may be seen on gram stain), hemoptysis and chest pain.
  • 1.1Any contagious disease that spreads rapidly and kills many people: diseases like smallpox wiped out the indigenous people in a succession of plagues
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    • In this way, they spread disease, plague, leprosy, typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, and so on.
    • The country has made headlines lately with the resurgence of preventable diseases such as plague, malaria, dengue fever and tuberculosis.
    • Infectious disease experts say that the agents of greatest concern are the germs that cause anthrax, smallpox, plague, botulism and tularemia.
    disease, sickness; bubonic plague, pneumonic plague, the Black Death; contagious disease, contagion, epidemic, pandemic
    archaic pestilence, the pest, murrain
  • 2An unusually large number of insects or animals infesting a place and causing damage: a plague of locusts
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    • Experts are warning that Africa is on the brink of its worst plague of the insects for nearly 20 years.
    • Australia is battling its biggest plague of locusts in decades as billions of the insects hatch along the central east region.
    • But then an almost biblical plague of insects descended on the crops and began eating them.
    huge number, infestation, epidemic, invasion, influx, swarm, multitude, host
  • 3 [in singular] A thing causing trouble or irritation: staff theft is usually the plague of restaurants
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    • A worried mum is convinced a mobile phone mast is responsible for the plague of health problems affecting her children.
    • Doctors' leaders warn the amount of time available to patients with genuine problems is being reduced because of the plague of hypochondriacs.
    • By removing the exchange rate and interest rates from the direct control of Italian authorities, the plague of high inflation and high interest rates disappeared.
  • 3.1 (a plague on) • archaic Used as a curse: a plague on all their houses!
    [echoing Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet ( iii. i. 94)]
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    • We do feel the creator's (Anderson's) anger, in cursing them with a plague on both their houses, as frogs rain from the sky.
    • A warning to Labour and the Liberal Democrats, this is not about confidence, a plague on all your houses.
    • Other than that, I'd wish a plague on all their houses if I could muster enough spite.

verb (plagues, plaguing, plagued)

[with object] Back to top  


late Middle English: Latin plaga 'stroke, wound', probably from Greek (Doric dialect) plaga, from a base meaning 'strike'.

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