Definition of epidemic in English:

epidemic

noun

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

    ‘a flu epidemic’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A current topic of conversation is the world-wide SARS epidemic.’
    • ‘As a result the country's cholera epidemic continues, with more than 140,000 cases since August 2000.’
    • ‘The foot-and-mouth epidemic sweeping Europe and causing the cancellation of numerous race meetings will not affect Spain's bullfighting season.’
    • ‘The worst scenario for the current SARS epidemic would be if it stormed into China's vast rural areas.’
    • ‘The U.S. government is preparing for a global flu epidemic.’
    • ‘Well below sea level, it suffered from floods and devastating yellow fever epidemics.’
    • ‘Is the government capable of preventing a bird flu epidemic?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Some Indian tribes experienced epidemics of measles and influenza, with infant mortality rates reaching 50 percent.’
    • ‘They are there throughout one's lunch, determined to cause an epidemic of dyspepsia.’
    • ‘Vaccination is currently below the level needed to avoid epidemics of measles - a potentially life-threatening infection.’
    • ‘In recent weeks an epidemic of measles broke out.’
    • ‘The ship's cook came down with the mumps and an onboard epidemic occurred.’
    • ‘So, you might not be aware there's a problem unless a virus epidemic occurs.’
    • ‘Doctors there were seeing many cases of diarrhoeal disease and feared epidemics of dysentery and cholera.’
    • ‘So children were dying in very large numbers from epidemics of infectious illness.’
    outbreak, plague, scourge, infestation
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A sudden, widespread occurrence of an undesirable phenomenon.
      ‘an epidemic of violent crime’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A few years later the heroin epidemic swept through Harlem and was devastating.’
      • ‘The idea of UV lights in public laboratories was first pioneered in Edinburgh, a city with a heroin epidemic.’
      • ‘It was around this time that the heroin epidemic in Dublin was really bad and a number of people had died.’
      • ‘It was just at the start of the heroin epidemic that laid waste to Scotland's most vulnerable estates.’
      • ‘The historical cases - including the two we have worked on - suggest that ‘open marginality’ describes groups where heroin epidemics occur.’
      • ‘Oppressed groups - at least those we've talked about here - were oppressed before a heroin epidemic took off.’
      • ‘Only some months ago, in the face of an epidemic of heroin deaths, they miraculously produced mobile vans and suddenly found extra places for addicts.’
      • ‘Poverty adds to the likelihood of a heroin epidemic, because it amplifies the role of the underground economy.’
      • ‘Now, each individual loss is a tragedy for the family, but we're not saying that there's an epidemic of crime in the United States.’
      • ‘On the other side of the comic-coin, the Government and the police are exploring rather curious ways of dealing with the crime epidemic.’
      • ‘Every year there seems to be a new crime wave epidemic that the media seems to play up, but six months later they've forgotten about it.’
      • ‘A number of approaches should be explored to combat the growing obesity epidemic.’
      • ‘What's behind the nation's fatness epidemic?’
      • ‘What she uncovers is an epidemic of unimaginable proportions within the world's most prosperous nation.’
      • ‘The epidemic of gun violence in our society calls for some drastic solution.’
      • ‘The harshness of these practices would suggest that we are in the throes of an epidemic of school violence.’
      • ‘To be more specific, there is an epidemic of methamphetamine abuse.’
      spate, rash, wave, explosion, eruption, outbreak, outburst, flare-up, craze
      View synonyms

adjective

  • Of the nature of an epidemic.

    ‘shoplifting has reached epidemic proportions’
    Compare with endemic, pandemic, epizootic
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Cardiovascular disease has reached near epidemic proportions in Africa.’
    • ‘Scalp ringworm is reaching epidemic proportions in parts of Britain's cities.’
    • ‘Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in this country, particularly among the Aboriginal population.’
    • ‘The nineteenth century developed a number of causative theories for the finite nature of epidemic disease.’
    • ‘The prevalence of obesity in the United States has reached epidemic proportions.’
    • ‘In short, humanity faces a growing global mental illness crisis of epidemic proportions.’
    • ‘The incidence of skin cancer is increasing by epidemic proportions.’
    • ‘A timebomb disease has reached epidemic proportions in East Yorkshire with specialists seeing more and more cases of a once-rare fatal cancer.’
    • ‘During this earlier period (and to a certain extent even now), middle ear disease was of epidemic proportions in the north.’
    • ‘In the end the disease could spread in epidemic proportions.’
    • ‘The disease assumed epidemic proportions for the first time in Taiwan in 1998, claiming 70 lives.’
    • ‘Asbestos disease is reaching epidemic proportions in Australia.’
    • ‘They got the message across effectively enough to stop the disease reaching epidemic proportions.’
    • ‘The body louse, Pediculus humanus corporis, is a vector of epidemic typhus, trench fever, and relapsing fever.’
    • ‘Typhoid fever had risen to epidemic proportions among migrant workers in the borough communities of London during this time.’
    • ‘Diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions in Ireland.’
    • ‘When a sickness reaches epidemic proportions, there is a frantic search for a cure.’
    rife, rampant, widespread, wide-ranging, extensive, sweeping, penetrating, pervading
    View synonyms

Origin

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’.

Pronunciation

epidemic

/ɛpɪˈdɛmɪk/