[ en-dem-ik ]
/ ɛnˈdɛm ɪk /
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See synonyms for: endemic / endemics on Thesaurus.com

adjective Also en·dem·i·cal .
natural to or characteristic of a specific people or place; native; indigenous: endemic folkways;countries where high unemployment is endemic.
belonging exclusively or confined to a particular place: a fever endemic to the tropics.
(of a disease) persisting in a population or region, generally having settled to a relatively constant rate of occurrence:The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 may never disappear, but could become endemic like HIV.
an endemic disease.
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Origin of endemic

First recorded in 1655–65; from New Latin endēmicus, equivalent to Greek éndēm(os) “dwelling in a place, native, (of disease) endemic” (from en- “within, in” + dêm(os) “people, district”) + Latin -icus adjective suffix; see en-2, deme, -ic


en·dem·i·cal·ly, adverben·de·mism [en-duh-miz-uhm], /ˈɛn dəˌmɪz əm/, en·de·mic·i·ty [en-duh-mis-i-tee], /ˌɛn dəˈmɪs ɪ ti/, nounnon·en·dem·ic, adjectiveun·en·dem·ic, adjective


endemic , epidemic, pandemic
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does endemic mean?

Endemic is an adjective that means natural to, native to, confined to, or widespread within a place or population of people. 

Endemic is perhaps most commonly used to describe a disease that is prevalent in or restricted to a particular location, region, or population. For example, malaria is said to be endemic to tropical regions.

In this context, it can also be used as a noun: an endemic disease can simply be called an endemic

When used to describe species of plants or animals that are found only within a specific place, it has the same meaning as native or indigenous, as in This plant is endemic to this region.

It can also be applied to characteristics of a people, place, or situation, as in Corruption was endemic in that organization when I worked there.

Where does endemic come from?

The first records of endemic in English come from the mid-1600s. It comes from the Greek éndēm(os). The prefix en- means “in or within” and the Greek root dēm(os) means “people.” So the basic meaning of endemic is “within a certain people” (or “within a certain area”). The same root forms the basis of democracy (government by the people), as well as epidemic and pandemic—which will be discussed later in this section. 

Endemic often means the same thing as native or indigenous, but you typically wouldn’t describe people as endemic to a region. Instead, that meaning is usually applied to species of plants or animals found only in a particular place. 

This sense of endemic is sometimes extended to the conditions or characteristics of a certain place or situation to indicate that they are widespread or occur naturally there. This is most often applied to negative qualities, as in Unemployment is endemic here. This usage likens such a condition to an endemic disease, which is perhaps how the word is most commonly used. 

A disease can be described as endemic when it’s confined to a particular place. For example, polio is endemic in a few countries where its spread has not been contained. Other diseases, though, are considered endemic if they have become established within the general population. Chickenpox is considered endemic in this way. When a disease is considered endemic, it does not necessarily mean it’s very common—it simply means it’s constantly present at some level. 

What’s the difference between endemic, epidemic, and pandemic?

The word endemic should not be confused with epidemic (or pandemic)—but the words are based on the same root, and there are some connections between the terms. All three can be used as both nouns and adjectives.

An epidemic involves a sudden and unusual increase in new cases of a disease within a location or region. Epidemics happen when a disease is highly contagious—meaning it spreads easily. A pandemic is an epidemic that has gone global (the prefix pan- means “all”). Due to its worldwide reach, a pandemic can lead to a disease becoming endemic (as opposed to being largely contained or eradicated through the use of vaccines, for example).

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What are some other forms related to endemic?

  • endemical (adjective)
  • endemically (adverb)
  • endemism (noun)
  • nonendemic (adjective)
  • unendemic (adjective)

What are some synonyms for endemic?

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How is endemic used in real life?

Endemic is often used in a scientific context, especially in the discussion of disease and native plants and animals.



Try using endemic!

Is endemic used correctly in the following sentence? 

“With proper use of a vaccine, we can eradicate this endemic.”

How to use endemic in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for endemic

/ (ɛnˈdɛmɪk) /

adjective Also: endemial (ɛnˈdɛmɪəl), endemical
present within a localized area or peculiar to persons in such an area
an endemic disease or plant

Derived forms of endemic

endemically, adverbendemism or endemicity, noun

Word Origin for endemic

C18: from New Latin endēmicus, from Greek endēmos native, from en- ² + dēmos the people
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 endemic

[ ĕn-dĕmĭk ]

Relating to a disease or pathogen that is found in or confined to a particular location, region, or people. Malaria, for example, is endemic to tropical regions. See also epidemic pandemic.
Native to a specific region or environment and not occurring naturally anywhere else. The giant sequoia is endemic to the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Compare alien indigenous.


A disease that occurs regularly in a particular area, as malaria does in many tropical countries, is said to be endemic. The word endemic, built from the prefix en-, “in or within,” and the Greek word demos, “people,” means “within the people (of a region).” A disease that affects many more people than usual in a particular area or that spreads into regions in which it does not usually occur is said to be epidemic. This word, built from the prefix epi-, meaning “upon,” and demos, means “upon the people.” In order for a disease to become epidemic it must be highly contagious, that is, easily spread through a population. Influenza has been the cause of many epidemics throughout history. Epidemics of waterborne diseases such as cholera often occur after natural disasters such as earthquakes and severe storms that disrupt or destroy sanitation systems and supplies of fresh water.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.