[ ep-i-dem-ik ]
See synonyms for epidemic on Thesaurus.com
  1. Also ep·i·dem·i·cal . (of a disease) affecting many persons at the same time, and spreading from person to person in a locality where the disease is not permanently prevalent.: Compare pandemic (def. 1).

  2. extremely prevalent; widespread.

  1. a temporary prevalence of a disease.

  2. a rapid spread or increase in the occurrence of something: an epidemic of riots.

Origin of epidemic

First recorded in 1595–1605; obsolete epidem(y) (from Late Latin epidēmia, from Greek epidēmía “staying in one place, among the people,” equivalent to epi- epi- + dêm(os) “people of a district” + -ia -y3) + -ic

Other words from epidemic

  • ep·i·dem·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • ep·i·de·mic·i·ty [ep-i-duh-mis-i-tee], /ˌɛp ɪ dəˈmɪs ɪ ti/, noun
  • in·ter·ep·i·dem·ic, adjective
  • pre·ep·i·dem·ic, noun, adjective

Words that may be confused with epidemic

Words Nearby epidemic

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use epidemic in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for epidemic


/ (ˌɛpɪˈdɛmɪk) /

  1. (esp of a disease) attacking or affecting many persons simultaneously in a community or area

  1. a widespread occurrence of a disease: an influenza epidemic

  2. a rapid development, spread, or growth of something, esp something unpleasant: an epidemic of strikes

Origin of epidemic

C17: from French épidémique, via Late Latin from Greek epidēmia literally: among the people, from epi- + dēmos people

Derived forms of epidemic

  • epidemically, adverb

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 epidemic


[ ĕp′ĭ-dĕmĭk ]

  1. An outbreak of a disease or illness that spreads rapidly among individuals in an area or population at the same time. See also endemic pandemic.

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

Cultural definitions for epidemic


A contagious disease that spreads rapidly and widely among the population in an area. Immunization and quarantine are two of the methods used to control an epidemic.

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.