Remember the 2009 swine flu? That was a pandemic — an illness that swept over much of the globe.

People fear pandemics, and with good reason. The black plague that ran through Asia and Europe in the 1300s is believed to have killed as much as half of Europe's population, between 75 and 100 million folks. The word comes from ancient Greek — pan (meaning "all") and demos (meaning "people"), or simply put — all the people. Of course, people across the globe suffer from the seasonal flu, and many die from it. But it isn't considered a pandemic because it is generally harmless to the healthy.

Definitions of pandemic

adj existing everywhere

pandemic fear of nuclear war”
applying to all or most members of a category or group

adj epidemic over a wide geographical area

“a pandemic outbreak of malaria”
(especially of medicine) of disease or anything resembling a disease; attacking or affecting many individuals in a community or a population simultaneously

n an epidemic that is geographically widespread; occurring throughout a region or even throughout the world

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

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