Meaning of epidemic in English:


Pronunciation /ˌɛpɪˈdɛmɪk/

See synonyms for epidemic

Translate epidemic into Spanish


  • 1A widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time.

    ‘a flu epidemic’
    • ‘an epidemic of cholera’
    • ‘I remembered hearing about the cholera epidemic which had struck just before I was born.’
    • ‘Well below sea level, it suffered from floods and devastating yellow fever epidemics.’
    • ‘Between 1555 and 1559 an influenza epidemic swept through the lowlands of England and Wales and killed around 200,000 people.’
    • ‘Although scattered outbreaks occurred earlier, the first major yellow fever epidemics in America broke out during the 1790s.’
    • ‘In recent weeks an epidemic of measles broke out.’
    • ‘The ship's cook came down with the mumps and an onboard epidemic occurred.’
    • ‘Doctors there feared epidemics of dysentery and cholera.’
    • ‘He is interested in the interactions of epidemics, evolution, and society.’
    • ‘Due to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, the events will mainly be staged online.’
    • ‘At the time of the 1918 flu epidemic, I was a student at the University of Wisconsin.’
    • ‘The COVID-19 epidemic is without precedent and has spread rapidly.’
    • ‘We've been through pandemics and epidemics before.’
    • ‘The nature of new epidemics is very often they come in waves.’
    • ‘For Victorians epidemics of yellow fever, cholera, smallpox and typhoid were an ever-present risk.’
    • ‘The coronavirus epidemic has put a temporary halt to some work.’
    • ‘I knew that we were facing an epidemic with which we were not familiar.’
    • ‘The epidemic is not over yet.’
    • ‘A devastating epidemic can start in any country.’
    • ‘The flu epidemic has hit almost every state in the US this winter.’
    • ‘Earlier this year, a severe bird flu epidemic in the southwest of the country led to import restrictions.’
    outbreak, plague, scourge, infestation
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    1. 1.1A sudden, widespread occurrence of a particular undesirable phenomenon.
      ‘an epidemic of violent crime’
      • ‘Every year there seems to be a new crime wave epidemic.’
      • ‘The unconstrained construction and development are all creating an epidemic of sinkholes.’
      • ‘The government has been warned there could be an epidemic of educational poverty.’
      • ‘These patterns are contributing to the nation's epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse.’
      • ‘As I see it, there is an epidemic of bad business advice out there.’
      • ‘The stock market meltdown of the past year need not necessarily trigger an epidemic of spiraling inflation.’
      • ‘Those numbers show a systemic failure, an epidemic of deceit.’
      • ‘An epidemic of illegal downloading is threatening the livelihoods of artists and songwriters.’
      • ‘An epidemic of grief swamped the country.’
      • ‘An epidemic of world lawlessness was spreading.’
      • ‘The loneliness epidemic is a veritable public-health crisis.’
      • ‘The spam epidemic launched an explosion in legitimate products and services to help combat the problem.’
      • ‘In response to the growing crime epidemic, many states have passed laws related to identity theft.’
      • ‘Experts now recognise that increasingly sedentary lifestyles contribute greatly to the back pain epidemic in the western world.’
      • ‘Campaigners say they're facing a hard drugs epidemic.’
      spate, rash, wave, explosion, eruption, outbreak, outburst, flare-up, craze
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  • 1(of a disease) occurring widely in a community at a particular time.

    Compare with endemic, pandemic

    ‘epidemic diseases’
    • ‘typhus was epidemic in the winter and spring of 1922’
    • ‘When a sickness reaches epidemic proportions, there is a frantic search for a cure.’
    • ‘Both companies have advised staff members to work from home due to epidemic concerns.’
    • ‘She decided to volunteer having seen how challenging it is for food banks to operate in epidemic conditions.’
    • ‘The country is close to reaching its goal of epidemic control.’
    • ‘The central government has allocated special funds for epidemic control and prevention.’
    • ‘Organisers of events which already have epidemic cover will be able to claim for cancellation due to the coronavirus.’
    • ‘Most companies will survive this epidemic crisis and will come out of it even stronger.’
    • ‘We continue to be very confident that we have reached the peak of the epidemic curve.’
    • ‘Social distancing will help flatten the epidemic curve.’
    • ‘The region is experiencing a new epidemic cycle of dengue.’
    • ‘The country is in the grip of epidemic disease.’
    • ‘Could we be entering some kind of new epidemic era?’
    • ‘I heard a podcast with an epidemic expert.’
    • ‘Household transmission is a major driver of epidemic growth.’
    • ‘He made a persuasive argument about the need to identify and stamp out epidemic hotspots.’
    • ‘The authorities are apprehensive about epidemic outbreaks.’
    • ‘The tool identifies diseases that pose a public health risk because of their epidemic potential.’
    • ‘Epidemic preparedness starts years before an outbreak.’
    • ‘We must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention.’
    • ‘Plastic waste has reached epidemic proportions.’
    rife, rampant, widespread, wide-ranging, extensive, sweeping, penetrating, pervading
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    1. 1.1(of something bad) widespread in a community.
      ‘the problem has become epidemic as people spend more time online’
      • ‘shoplifting has reached epidemic proportions’
      rife, rampant, widespread, wide-ranging, extensive, sweeping, penetrating, pervading
      View synonyms


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’.