Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Spreading rapidly and extensively by infection and affecting many individuals in an area or a population at the same time.
  • adjective Widely prevalent.
  • noun An outbreak of a contagious disease that spreads rapidly and widely.
  • noun A rapid spread, growth, or development.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Common to or affecting a whole people or a great number in a community; generally diffused and prevalent.
  • noun A temporary prevalence of a disease throughout a community: as, an epidemic of smallpox.
  • noun The disease thus prevalent.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Med.) An epidemic disease.
  • noun Anything which takes possession of the minds of people as an epidemic does of their bodies.
  • adjective (Med.) Common to, or affecting at the same time, a large number in a community; -- applied to a disease which, spreading widely, attacks many persons at the same time; See endemic.
  • adjective Spreading widely, or generally prevailing; affecting great numbers, as an epidemic does

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A widespread disease that affects many individuals in a population.
  • noun epidemiology An occurrence of a disease or disorder in a population at a frequency higher than that expected in a given time period.
  • adjective Like or having to do with an epidemic; widespread

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective (especially of medicine) of disease or anything resembling a disease; attacking or affecting many individuals in a community or a population simultaneously
  • noun a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease; many people are infected at the same time

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French épidémique, from épidémie, an epidemic, from Old French espydymie, from Medieval Latin epidēmia, from Greek epidēmiā, prevalence of an epidemic disease, from epidēmos, prevalent : epi-, epi- + dēmos, people; see dā- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French épidémique, from épidémie, from Latin epidemia, from Ancient Greek ἐπιδήμιος (epidēmios), from ἐπί (epi, "upon") + δῆμος (dēmos, "people").

Examples

  • While I've argued plenty of times before about the media's irrepressibly giddy lust for slapping the term "epidemic" on any and every problem that effects a large enough group, there are far too many obscenely overweight people across this great land of ours, and if you think it's simply a personal decision that affects no one but them and the Wal-Mart scooters whose suspension systems they push to the point of collapse, think again.

    Chez Pazienza: Food Fighter: Freedom of Choice vs. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution?

  • While I've argued plenty of times before about the media's irrepressibly giddy lust for slapping the term "epidemic" on any and every problem that effects a large enough group, there are far too many obscenely overweight people across this great land of ours, and if you think it's simply a personal decision that affects no one but them and the Wal-Mart scooters whose suspension systems they push to the point of collapse, think again.

    Chez Pazienza: Food Fighter: Freedom of Choice vs. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution?

  • While I've argued plenty of times before about the media's irrepressibly giddy lust for slapping the term "epidemic" on any and every problem that effects a large enough group, there are far too many obscenely overweight people across this great land of ours, and if you think it's simply a personal decision that affects no one but them and the Wal-Mart scooters whose suspension systems they push to the point of collapse, think again.

    Chez Pazienza: Food Fighter: Freedom of Choice vs. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution?

  • While I've argued plenty of times before about the media's irrepressibly giddy lust for slapping the term "epidemic" on any and every problem that effects a large enough group, there are far too many obscenely overweight people across this great land of ours, and if you think it's simply a personal decision that affects no one but them and the Wal-Mart scooters whose suspension systems they push to the point of collapse, think again.

    Chez Pazienza: Food Fighter: Freedom of Choice vs. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution?

  • While I've argued plenty of times before about the media's irrepressibly giddy lust for slapping the term "epidemic" on any and every problem that effects a large enough group, there are far too many obscenely overweight people across this great land of ours, and if you think it's simply a personal decision that affects no one but them and the Wal-Mart scooters whose suspension systems they push to the point of collapse, think again.

    Chez Pazienza: Food Fighter: Freedom of Choice vs. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution?

  • Authorities in Mexico, where 40 more deaths are suspected to have resulted from the disease, and some 1,000 patients are under observation, are already using the term epidemic, but the WHO has not yet gone so far.

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  • MARC, Haiti — Haiti's cholera epidemic is adding fresh urgency to the need to upgrade the country's water and sanitation network, a pivotal step to containing the highly infectious and deadly disease that spreads through contaminated water.

    Haiti Scrambles to Secure Clean Water

  • Mr. Vance criticized what he called an epidemic of "greed and corruption" that imposes "a hidden billion-dollar-a-year-tax on New York City's construction industry."

    Fraud Charged In Overbilling By Contractor

  • Now, last month, as many people know, the airlines and the FAA met to talk about just how to fix what they call epidemic delays, especially at JFK.

    CNN Transcript Nov 6, 2007

  • Personally, who do you think is responsible for what you call the epidemic of obesity?

    CNN Transcript Jul 30, 2003

Comments

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  • Malcolm Gladwell's thinking of behaviours as epidemic in The Tipping Point.

    From yawning and shopping to smoking and suicide.

    May 26, 2009