April 22, 2016
epidemic (noun)
\ep-uh-DEM-ik\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : an outbreak of disease that spreads wildly and affects many individuals at one time2 : a sudden rapidly spreading outbreak or growth
How do you use it?
"‘In August the yellow-fever had reached its extremest height. Daily, hundreds fell a sacrifice to the terrible epidemic.'" (Mark Twain, _Life on the Mississippi_)
Are you a word wiz?

The English word "epidemic" comes from two Greek roots: "epi-" and "demos." What do "epi-" and "demos" mean?

The English word "epidemic" traces back to Greek "epi-," meaning "on," "at," "beside," or "after," and "demos," meaning "people." In Greek, the two words combined to make "epidemos" which means "affecting a large number of people." This word was borrowed into Latin, and then French, and then into English as the adjective "epidemic." The noun "epidemic" showed up in English about 100 years after the adjective, in the mid-1700s. Both Greek roots have very common ancestors in English. "Epi-" was taken straight into English as a prefix and appears in words like "epidemic" and "epicenter." "Demos" is the root for words like "democracy" and "demagogue."
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