An epidemic is a disease that spreads rapidly among many people in a community at the same time. In the 1980s, the fast-spreading AIDS epidemic transformed life on our planet.

Epidemic can be used figuratively to refer to something that spreads or grows rapidly: an epidemic of laziness has taken over the tenth grade. This word is from French épidémique, ultimately from Greek epidēmia "staying in one place, among the people." The related word pandemic refers to a disease that spreads throughout an entire country or throughout the world.

Definitions of epidemic

n a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease; many people are infected at the same time

an epidemic that is geographically widespread; occurring throughout a region or even throughout the world
Type of:
eruption, irruption, outbreak
a sudden violent spontaneous occurrence (usually of some undesirable condition)

adj (especially of medicine) of disease or anything resembling a disease; attacking or affecting many individuals in a community or a population simultaneously

“an epidemic outbreak of influenza”
(of plants) epidemic among plants of a single kind especially over a wide area
(of animals) epidemic among animals of a single kind within a particular region
epidemic over a wide geographical area
pestiferous, pestilent, pestilential, plaguey
likely to spread and cause an epidemic disease
of or relating to a disease that originates outside the locality in which it occurs
endemic, endemical
of or relating to a disease (or anything resembling a disease) constantly present to greater or lesser extent in a particular locality
of a disease that is constantly present in an animal community but only occurs in a small number of cases
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