epidemic

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
  1. noun
    a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease; many people are infected at the same time
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    types:
    pandemic
    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)
  2. noun
    a sudden violent spontaneous occurrence (usually of some undesirable condition)
    synonyms: eruption, irruption, outbreak
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    types:
    recrudescence
    a return of something after a period of abatement
    pandemic
    an epidemic that is geographically widespread; occurring throughout a region or even throughout the world
    type of:
    happening, natural event, occurrence, occurrent
    an event that happens
  3. adjective
    (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”
    Synonyms:
    epiphytotic
    (of plants) epidemic among plants of a single kind especially over a wide area
    epizootic
    (of animals) epidemic among animals of a single kind within a particular region
    pandemic
    epidemic over a wide geographical area
    pestiferous, pestilent, pestilential, plaguey
    likely to spread and cause an epidemic disease
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    Antonyms:
    ecdemic
    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
    enzootic
    of a disease that is constantly present in an animal community but only occurs in a small number of cases
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  4. adjective
    occurring or increasing in an unrestrained way
    synonyms: rampant
    uncontrolled
    not being under control; out of control
Commonly confused words

epidemic / pandemic

A pandemic is like an epidemic on steroids. Both are words for a widespread disease, but a pandemic can spread across continents, while an epidemic affects a smaller population. An epidemic disease can originate in one area but grow to be a pandemic as it infects people all over the world.

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