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an epidemic disease that causes high mortality; pestilence.
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 , , .
any widespread affliction, calamity, or evil, especially one regarded as a direct punishment by God:
a plague of war and desolation.
any cause of trouble, annoyance, or vexation:
Uninvited guests are a plague.
to trouble, annoy, or torment in any manner:
The question of his future plagues him with doubt.
to annoy, bother, or pester:
Ants plagued the picnickers.
to smite with a plague, pestilence, death, etc.; scourge:
those whom the gods had plagued.
to infect with a plague; cause an epidemic in or among:
diseases that still plague the natives of Ethiopia.
to afflict with any evil:
He was plagued by allergies all his life.
French La Peste. a novel (1947) by Albert Camus.
Contemporary Examples

Where better to test cultures of anthrax, typhoid, plague and tularemia than on an island in a sea in the middle of the desert?
The Aral Sea’s Disappearing Act Anna Nemtsova October 3, 2014

Clive Irving on the critical logistical failures of the largest triage since the plague.
We Missed the Moment Clive Irving January 14, 2010

Over the last decade or two of American fiction, a plague has appeared, infecting novels with its affectations.
Great Weekend Reads Malcolm Jones, Lucy Scholes, Jacob Silverman, Drew Toal September 17, 2011

Because of its very low population densities, Poland was untouched the plague – and by the ensuing pogroms.
David’s Bookclub: The Jews in Poland and Russia David Frum September 25, 2012

Ellison has also taken no-nonsense stances on issues that plague the region, quick to denounce anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
Here’s An Idea: Pick Ellison For State Eli Clifton December 20, 2012

Historical Examples

It is no wonder that the plague of yellow fever has for centuries stalked remorselessly in its midst.
On the Mexican Highlands William Seymour Edwards

All their calamities, except the plague, were the foreseen results of their own decision.
Stories from Thucydides H. L. Havell

The plague be in his fingers, quoth old John to himself, gin he haena smeared crocks an fat sheep, an a that has come in his way.
The Brownie of Bodsbeck, and Other Tales, Vol. II (of 2) James Hogg

The chief of a nation that prefers the pestilence of despotism to the plague of anarchy.
The Devil’s Dictionary Ambrose Bierce

What a plague business has he to be paddling up and down, contentedly doing his duty, like any city watchman?
Westward Ho! Charles Kingsley

any widespread and usually highly contagious disease with a high fatality rate
an infectious disease of rodents, esp rats, transmitted to man by the bite of the rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis)
See bubonic plague
something that afflicts or harasses
(informal) an annoyance or nuisance
a pestilence, affliction, or calamity on a large scale, esp when regarded as sent by God
(archaic) used to express annoyance, disgust, etc: a plague on you
verb (transitive) plagues, plaguing, plagued
to afflict or harass
to bring down a plague upon
(informal) to annoy

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.

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.

plague (plāg)
A highly infectious, usually fatal, epidemic disease, especially bubonic plague.

Any of various highly infectious, usually fatal epidemic diseases.

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.

plague [(playg)]

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

Note: The term is also used to refer to widespread outbreaks of many kinds, such as a “plague of locusts.”

a “stroke” of affliction, or disease. Sent as a divine chastisement (Num. 11:33; 14:37; 16:46-49; 2 Sam. 24:21). Painful afflictions or diseases, (Lev. 13:3, 5, 30; 1 Kings 8:37), or severe calamity (Mark 5:29; Luke 7:21), or the judgment of God, so called (Ex. 9:14). Plagues of Egypt were ten in number. (1.) The river Nile was turned into blood, and the fish died, and the river stank, so that the Egyptians loathed to drink of the river (Ex. 7:14-25). (2.) The plague of frogs (Ex. 8:1-15). (3.) The plague of lice (Heb. kinnim, properly gnats or mosquitoes; comp. Ps. 78:45; 105:31), “out of the dust of the land” (Ex. 8:16-19). (4.) The plague of flies (Heb. arob, rendered by the LXX. dog-fly), Ex. 8:21-24. (5.) The murrain (Ex.9:1-7), or epidemic pestilence which carried off vast numbers of cattle in the field. Warning was given of its coming. (6.) The sixth plague, of “boils and blains,” like the third, was sent without warning (Ex.9:8-12). It is called (Deut. 28:27) “the botch of Egypt,” A.V.; but in R.V., “the boil of Egypt.” “The magicians could not stand before Moses” because of it. (7.) The plague of hail, with fire and thunder (Ex. 9:13-33). Warning was given of its coming. (Comp. Ps. 18:13; 105:32, 33). (8.) The plague of locusts, which covered the whole face of the earth, so that the land was darkened with them (Ex. 10:12-15). The Hebrew name of this insect, _arbeh_, points to the “multitudinous” character of this visitation. Warning was given before this plague came. (9.) After a short interval the plague of darkness succeeded that of the locusts; and it came without any special warning (Ex. 10:21-29). The darkness covered “all the land of Egypt” to such an extent that “they saw not one another.” It did not, however, extend to the land of Goshen. (10.) The last and most fearful of these plagues was the death of the first-born of man and of beast (Ex. 11:4, 5; 12:29,30). The exact time of the visitation was announced, “about midnight”, which would add to the horror of the infliction. Its extent also is specified, from the first-born of the king to the first-born of the humblest slave, and all the first-born of beasts. But from this plague the Hebrews were completely exempted. The Lord “put a difference” between them and the Egyptians. (See PASSOVER.)

see: avoid like the plague


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