[ pleyg ]
See synonyms for plague on
  1. an epidemic disease that causes high mortality; pestilence.

  2. an infectious, epidemic disease caused by a bacterium, Yersinia pestis, characterized by fever, chills, and prostration, transmitted to humans from rats by means of the bites of fleas.: Compare bubonic plague, pneumonic plague, septicemic plague.

  1. any widespread affliction, calamity, or evil, especially one regarded as a direct punishment by God: a plague of war and desolation.

  2. any cause of trouble, annoyance, or vexation: Uninvited guests are a plague.

verb (used with object),plagued, pla·guing.
  1. to trouble, annoy, or torment in any manner: The question of his future plagues him with doubt.

  2. to annoy, bother, or pester: Ants plagued the picnickers.

  1. to smite with a plague, pestilence, death, etc.; scourge: those whom the gods had plagued.

  2. to infect with a plague; cause an epidemic in or among: diseases that still plague the natives of Ethiopia.

  3. to afflict with any evil: He was plagued by allergies all his life.

Origin of plague

1350–1400; Middle English plage<Latin plāga stripe, wound, Late Latin: pestilence

synonym study For plague

6. See bother.

Other words for plague

Other words from plague

  • plaguer, noun
  • an·ti·plague, noun, adjective
  • un·plagued, adjective

Words that may be confused with plague Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use plague in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for plague


/ (pleɪɡ) /

  1. any widespread and usually highly contagious disease with a high fatality rate

  2. an infectious disease of rodents, esp rats, transmitted to man by the bite of the rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis)

  1. something that afflicts or harasses

  2. informal an annoyance or nuisance

  3. a pestilence, affliction, or calamity on a large scale, esp when regarded as sent by God

  4. archaic used to express annoyance, disgust, etc: a plague on you

verbplagues, plaguing or plagued (tr)
  1. to afflict or harass

  2. to bring down a plague upon

  1. informal to annoy

Origin of plague

C14: from Late Latin plāga pestilence, from Latin: a blow; related to Greek plēgē a stroke, Latin plangere to strike

Derived forms of plague

  • plaguer, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for plague


[ plāg ]

  1. Any of various highly infectious, usually fatal epidemic diseases.

  2. An often fatal disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, transmitted to humans usually by fleas that have bitten infected rats or other rodents.Bubonic plague, the most common type, is characterized by the tender, swollen lymph nodes called buboes, fever, clotting abnormalities of the blood, and tissue necrosis. An epidemic of bubonic plague in fourteenth-century Europe and Asia was known as the Black Death.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for plague


[ (playg) ]

A highly contagious disease, such as bubonic plague, that spreads quickly throughout a population and causes widespread sickness and death.

Notes for plague

The term is also used to refer to widespread outbreaks of many kinds, such as a “plague of locusts.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with plague


see avoid like the plague.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.