Pestilence means a deadly and overwhelming disease that affects an entire community. The Black Plague, a disease that killed over thirty percent of Europe's population, was certainly a pestilence.

Pestilence is also one of the four Horseman of the Apocalypse in the book of Revelation (which is part of The Bible). When pestilence rides into town, you want to be somewhere far, far away. Whereas a person gets the flue, a nation experiences a pestilence. A disease that causes widespread crop damage or animal deaths can also be called a pestilence.

Definitions of pestilence

n any epidemic disease with a high death rate

pest, plague
Type of:
epidemic disease
any infectious disease that develops and spreads rapidly to many people

n a serious (sometimes fatal) infection of rodents caused by Yersinia pestis and accidentally transmitted to humans by the bite of a flea that has bitten an infected animal

pest, pestis, plague
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bubonic plague, glandular plague, pestis bubonica
the most common form of the plague in humans; characterized by chills, prostration, delirium and the formation of buboes in the armpits and groin; does not spread from person to person
plague pneumonia, pneumonic plague, pulmonic plague
a rapidly progressive and frequently fatal form of the plague that can spread through the air from person to person; characterized by lung involvement with chill, bloody expectoration and high fever
septicemic plague
an especially dangerous and generally fatal form of the plague in which infecting organisms invade the bloodstream; does not spread from person to person
ambulant plague, ambulatory plague, pestis ambulans
a mild form of bubonic plague
Black Death, Black Plague
the epidemic form of bubonic plague experienced during the Middle Ages when it killed nearly half the people of western Europe
Type of:
epidemic disease
any infectious disease that develops and spreads rapidly to many people

n a pernicious and malign influence that is hard to get rid of

“racism is a pestilence at the heart of the nation”
Type of:
a cognitive factor that tends to have an effect on what you do

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