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See also: Pandemic



A transmission electron microscope image of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the coronavirus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which the World Health Organization declared to be a pandemic (etymology 1, noun sense) on 11 March 2020.

Etymology 1[edit]

From Ancient Greek πάνδημος (pándēmos, of or belonging to all the people, public) + English -ic (suffix forming adjectives from nouns with the sense ‘of or pertaining to’). πάνδημος is derived from παν- (pan-, prefix meaning ‘all, every’) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *peh₂- (to protect, shepherd)) + δῆμος (dêmos, the common people; free citizens, sovereign people) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *deh₂- (to divide, share)). Compare Late Latin pandēmus (affecting all the people, general, public).[1]


pandemic (comparative more pandemic, superlative most pandemic)

  1. (epidemiology) Of a disease: epidemic over a wide geographical area and affecting a large proportion of the population; also, of or pertaining to a disease of this nature.
    Synonyms: (obsolete) pandemial, (obsolete) pandemical, panepidemic
    Antonym: nonpandemic
    The chaotic breakdown of public health as World War I dragged on is widely recognized as exacerbating the disease burden of the pandemic outbreak of influenza in 1918.
    • [[1672?], Gideon Harvey, “Of the Original and Contagion of Consumptions”, in Morbus Anglicus, or A Theoretick and Practical Discourse of Consumptions, and Hypochondriack Melancholy. [], London: Printed for William Thackeray, [], →OCLC, pages 1–2:
      Among diſeaſes, ſome do more generally haunt a Country, by reaſon of a certain property in the air, produced through a particular influence of the climat; and the fuming of malign ſtreams out of the earth; whence ſuch diſeaſes are termed Endemick or Pandemick: Others, though they are general, do only rage at a certain ſeaſon of the year, and are therefore called Epidemick; [...]
      A use of the word as a synonym of endemic.]
    • 1754, R[ichard] Brookes, “Of Pathology”, in An Introduction to Physic and Surgery: [], London: Printed for J[ohn] Newbery, [], →OCLC, page 41:
      Diſeaſes are likewise endemic and pandemic. [...] The pandemic affect the People in general at one and the ſame Time, without Regard to Sex, Age, Condition, or Temperament; ſuch as peſtilential Diſeaſes.
    • 1990, John Treanor, Brian Murphy, “Genes Involved in the Restriction of Replication of Avian Influenza A Viruses in Primates”, in Edouard Kerstak, R. G. Marusyk, F. A. Murphy, M[arc] H[ubert] V[ictor] van Regenmortel, editors, Virus Variability, Epidemiology, and Control (Applied Virology Research; 2), New York, N.Y., London: Plenum Medical Book Company, →ISBN, page 165:
      Avian–human influenza A reassortant viruses with the phenotype of restricted replication in primates would not be able to spread efficiently from human to human, and therefore viruses with these gene constellations would not be expected to give rise to pandemic human influenza viruses. This represents one possible obstacle to the emergence of new pandemic influenza A viruses in humans, namely, the presence of avian–human influenza gene constellations that restrict viral replication in primates.
  2. (usually derogatory) General, widespread.
    Synonyms: common, ubiquitous, universal; see also Thesaurus:widespread
    • 1844 May, “Art. VI.—On Superstitions Connected with the History and Practice of Medicine and Surgery. By John Joseph Pettigrew, [] London: Churchill. [book review]”, in The Monthly Review, volumes II (New and Improved Series), London: G. Henderson, [], →OCLC, pages 70–71:
      A former age insisted upon the efficacy of scarlet curtains and red broad-cloth in small-pox—a succeeding age thinks it has proved the practice superstitious,—or they refer to it fancy. Now that said fancy is an element in the constitution of man, possibly more powerful in its effects upon the cure or aggravation of disease, than all the drugs in all the chemists' laboratories in all the towns of the world. For it is universal and not partial, pandemic and not solitary.
    • 1987, Yakov Malkiel, “The Transmission into Romance of Latin NŌDUS, NǓPTIAE, NǓRUS, and NǓX: Diachronic Interplay of Phonetic and Semantic Analogies”, in General Linguistics, volume 27, number 4, pages 239–260; republished in Diachronic Studies in Lexicology, Affixation, Phonology (Edita and Inedita, 1979–1988; II), Amsterdam, Philadelphia, Pa.: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1992, →ISBN, page 207:
      Allow Class[ical] Ō and Ǔ to merge into a single phoneme, namely /o/, [...] and the specimens under investigation will emerge as /nodo/, /nokʼe/, and /noro/, the last-mentioned driven by an early pandemic tendency to change into /nora/ as, inherently, the designation of a female.
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pandemic (plural pandemics)

  1. (epidemiology) A pandemic disease; a disease that affects a wide geographical area and a large proportion of the population.
    Synonyms: (rare) pandemia, panzoosis; see also Thesaurus:pandemic
    • 1832 September 5, J. A. Allen, “Epidemics. Remarks on the Etiology and Character of Epidemics.”, in The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, volume VII, number 4, Boston, Mass.: Printed and published by Clapp & Hull, [], →OCLC, page 53:
      Those diseases which have some strong resemblance in their general characters, and attack many individuals in a large extent of country at about the same time, are commonly called epidemics. If all, or about all the inhabitants of a country be similarly attacked, at or near the same time, with a particular complaint, it is more properly called a pandemic.
    • 1894, Charles Creighton, “Influenzas and Epidemic Agues”, in A History of Epidemics in Britain, volume II (From the Extinction of Plague to the Present Time), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: At the University Press, →OCLC, page 431:
      The full and correct theory of influenza will not be reached by the great pandemics only. On the other hand some very localized epidemics may prove to be signal instances for the pathology, although they do not bear upon the source of the great historic waves of influenza.
    • 1953, Jessie I. Wood, “Three Billion Dollars a Year”, in Alfred Stefferud, editor, The Yearbook of Agriculture 1953: Plant Diseases (83d Congress, 1st Session, House Document; no. 122), Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture, →OCLC, page 6, column 1:
      The outbreak [of potato blight] in Ireland was part of a pandemic—that is, the disease suddenly became widespread and destructive almost simultaneously in several European countries and in the United States as well. [...] [T]he pathogen increased and became widely distributed, so that when the weather became generally and extremely favorable, as happened during the years of the pandemic, it could attack rapidly and in force over a wide area at once.
    • 2000, Jackson Katz, “The Sounds of Silence: Notes on the Personal Politics of Men’s Leadership in Gender-based Violence Prevention Education”, in Nancy Lesko, editor, Masculinities at School (Research on Men and Masculinities; 11), Thousand Oaks, Calif., London: SAGE Publications, →ISBN, part 4 (Pedagogies, Polices, and Leadership), page 283:
      The American pandemic of men's violence against women is one of the greatest tragedies of our time.
    • 2013 January–February, Katie L. Burke, “Ecological Dependency [review of Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (2012) by David Quammen]”, in American Scientist[1], volume 101, number 1, New Haven, Conn.: Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 10 November 2016, page 64:
      In his first book since the 2008 essay collection Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature, David Quammen looks at the natural world from yet another angle: the search for the next human pandemic, what epidemiologists call "the next big one."
    • 2016 October, Scott Dadich, quoting Barack Obama, “Barack Obama Talks AI, Robo Cars, and the Future of the World”, in Wired[2], →ISSN:
      What I spend a lot of time worrying about are things like pandemics. You can’t build walls in order to prevent the next airborne lethal flu from landing on our shores.
    • 2020 March 11, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “WHO Director-General’s Opening Remarks at the Media Briefing on COVID-19”, in World Health Organization[3], archived from the original on 11 March 2020:
      WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. [...] We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time.
    • 2020 April 8, Dr David Turner, “How railway staff were conduits and victims of a pandemic”, in Rail, page 31:
      When the pandemic broke out, transport as a site of transmission was therefore at the forefront of medical experts' minds. And it was something they were not afraid to address publicly.
    • 2022 April 26, Anthony Fauci, 6:12 from the start, in Dr. Fauci on why the U.S. is ‘out of the pandemic phase’[4], PBS NewsHour, archived from the original on 28 April 2022:
      We are certainly right now, in this country, out of the pandemic phase- namely, we don't have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now. So if you're saying, 'are we out of the pandemic phase in this country?', we are.
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Etymology 2[edit]

A statue of the Capitoline Venus in the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Italy, which is regarded as a depiction of the pandemic (etymology 2) or earthly and sensual aspect of the Greek goddess of beauty and love Aphrodite and her Roman counterpart Venus.

See Pandemic.


pandemic (not comparable)

  1. (Greek mythology, Roman mythology, rare) Alternative letter-case form of Pandemic (of Aphrodite Pandemos, the earthly aspect of the Greek goddess of beauty and love Aphrodite and her Roman counterpart Venus, as contrasted with the heavenly aspect known as Aphrodite Urania: earthly, physical, sensual.)


  1. ^ pandemic, adj. and n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2005; “pandemic, adj. and n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]



Borrowed from French pandémique. By surface analysis, pandemie +‎ -ic.


pandemic m or n (feminine singular pandemică, masculine plural pandemici, feminine and neuter plural pandemice)

  1. pandemic