1. an epidemic disease that causes high mortality; pestilence.
  2. an infectious, epidemic disease caused by a bacterium, Yersinia pestis, characterized by fever, chills, and prostration, transmitted to humans from rats by means of the bites of fleas.Compare bubonic plague, pneumonic plague, septicemic plague.
  3. any widespread affliction, calamity, or evil, especially one regarded as a direct punishment by God: a plague of war and desolation.
  4. any cause of trouble, annoyance, or vexation: Uninvited guests are a plague.

verb (used with object), plagued, pla·guing.

  1. to trouble, annoy, or torment in any manner: The question of his future plagues him with doubt.
  2. to annoy, bother, or pester: Ants plagued the picnickers.
  3. to smite with a plague, pestilence, death, etc.; scourge: those whom the gods had plagued.
  4. to infect with a plague; cause an epidemic in or among: diseases that still plague the natives of Ethiopia.
  5. to afflict with any evil: He was plagued by allergies all his life.


  1. any widespread and usually highly contagious disease with a high fatality rate
  2. an infectious disease of rodents, esp rats, transmitted to man by the bite of the rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis)
  3. See bubonic plague
  4. something that afflicts or harasses
  5. informal an annoyance or nuisance
  6. a pestilence, affliction, or calamity on a large scale, esp when regarded as sent by God
  7. archaic used to express annoyance, disgust, etca plague on you

verb plagues, plaguing or plagued (tr)

  1. to afflict or harass
  2. to bring down a plague upon
  3. informal to annoy

n.late 14c., plage, “affliction, calamity, evil, scourge;” early 15c., “malignant disease,” from Old French plage (14c.), from Late Latin plaga, used in Vulgate for “pestilence,” from Latin plaga “stroke, wound,” probably from root of plangere “to strike, lament (by beating the breast),” from or cognate with Greek (Doric) plaga “blow,” from PIE *plak- (2) “to strike, to hit” (cf. Greek plazein “to drive away,” plessein “to beat, strike;” Old English flocan “to strike, beat;” Gothic flokan “to bewail;” German fluchen, Old Frisian floka “to curse”). The Latin word also is the source of Old Irish plag (genitive plaige) “plague, pestilence,” German Plage, Dutch plaage. Meaning “epidemic that causes many deaths” is from 1540s; specifically in reference to bubonic plague from c.1600. Modern spelling follows French, which had plague from 15c. Weakened sense of “anything annoying” is from c.1600. v.late 15c., from Middle Dutch plaghen, from plaghe (n.) “plague” (see plague (n.)). Sense of “bother, annoy” it is first recorded 1590s. Related: Plagued; plaguing. n.

  1. A highly infectious, usually fatal, epidemic disease; a pestilence.
  2. A highly fatal infectious disease that is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, is transmitted primarily by the bite of a rat flea, and occurs in bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic forms.

  1. Any of various highly infectious, usually fatal epidemic diseases.
  2. An often fatal disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, transmitted to humans usually by fleas that have bitten infected rats or other rodents.Bubonic plague, the most common type, is characterized by the tender, swollen lymph nodes called buboes, fever, clotting abnormalities of the blood, and tissue necrosis. An epidemic of bubonic plague in fourteenth-century Europe and Asia was known as the Black Death.

A highly contagious disease, such as bubonic plague, that spreads quickly throughout a population and causes widespread sickness and death. see avoid like the plague.

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