Definition of plague in English:



  • 1A contagious bacterial disease characterized by fever and delirium, typically with the formation of buboes (see bubonic plague) and sometimes infection of the lungs (pneumonic plague)

    ‘an outbreak of plague’
    ‘they died of the plague’
    • ‘It did exist, but it was discontinued by the manufacturer back in 1999, because it didn't seem to prevent the lung form of the plague, pneumonic plague.’
    • ‘During the years of 1616-1619 an epidemic, perhaps either bubonic or pneumonic plague, ravaged the coast of New England from Cape Cod to Maine.’
    • ‘Bubonic and septicaemic plague are caused by the flea bites, while pneumonic plague can be passed directly between people.’
    • ‘There are two other varieties of plague: septicaemic plague, which attacks the blood, and pneumonic plague, which attacks the lungs.’
    • ‘Clinical features of pneumonic plague include fever, cough with mucopurulent sputum (gram-negative rods may be seen on gram stain), hemoptysis and chest pain.’
    • ‘At first, bioterrorism - whether it's inhalation anthrax, smallpox, pneumonic plague or something else entirely - will probably feel like the flu.’
    • ‘Of the 15 cases following exposure to domestic cats with plague, 4 were primary pneumonic plague.’
    • ‘Bubonic and pneumonic plague had killed between one-third and one-half of the rural population, causing a severe labor shortage.’
    • ‘If pneumonic plague is suspected, local and state health departments must be notified immediately.’
    • ‘Asymptomatic people exposed to plague aerosol or people with suspected pneumonic plague may be given antibiotics for the duration of the risk of exposure plus one week.’
    • ‘An epidemic of pneumonic plague has hit the Congo among diamond miners recently.’
    • ‘The high level of mortality and infectivity of pneumonic plague is the driving force for the development of new and more effective vaccines.’
    • ‘Given the virulence of the plague and the symptoms described, it seems likely that the cold Scottish weather provoked an outbreak of pneumonic plague, with the complication of septicaemia.’
    • ‘Second, other diseases exist that are even more lethal than smallpox: inhalation anthrax and pneumonic plague, for instance, can kill close to 100 percent of the people they infect.’
    • ‘Smallpox is among the most contagious, followed by pneumonic plague and perhaps some hemorrhagic fevers, depending on the type.’
    • ‘The pneumonic plague would be the form most likely implicated in the event of an intentional attack.’
    • ‘In this form, it could be sprayed through the air, infecting anyone inhaling it and causing pneumonic plague, which affects your lungs and can be spread from person to person.’
    • ‘Rumours abounded about the source of the infection: a pneumonic plague spread by rats, an avian acquired respiratory infection from chickens or crows, a new strain of influenza, or even bioterrorism.’
    • ‘Person-to-person spread of bubonic or septicemic plague does not occur; however, pneumonic plague is highly contagious.’
    • ‘Approximately 5% to 15% of patients suffering from bubonic plague will develop secondary pneumonic plague.’
    1. 1.1A contagious disease that spreads rapidly and kills many people.
      • ‘Infectious disease experts say that the agents of greatest concern are the germs that cause anthrax, smallpox, plague, botulism and tularemia.’
      • ‘The number of measles cases is fast rising, and if this continues children could die, and the disease could become the plague it once was.’
      • ‘One is able to regard the country as very healthy, despite the regrettable maladies that frequently afflict it in the form of plague, dysentery and small pox.’
      • ‘The conquest of major epidemic diseases such as the plague and smallpox was an important contribution, but vulnerability to disease had persisted as a result of poor health.’
      • ‘Life expectancy has risen, and many diseases, including plague, smallpox, cholera, and typhus, have been eliminated.’
      • ‘This was the era of plague, typhus, malaria, high infant and maternal mortality, and low life expectancy.’
      • ‘But there are other threats, small pox, plague, other more contagious diseases, that we still could be subjected to.’
      • ‘And of course they carry infectious diseases such as plague.’
      • ‘Moreover, the only diseases that members are required to report are yellow fever, plague and cholera.’
      • ‘Cholera, plague, smallpox, malaria, kalaazar, leprosy and venereal diseases are the others considered.’
      • ‘The minister identified plague, ebola, smallpox, anthrax, tularaemia and botulism as the main biological threats.’
      • ‘Insecticides kill insect defoliators and vectors of deadly human diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, plague, and typhus.’
      • ‘Between then and 1902 data were collected on cholera, smallpox, plague, and yellow fever.’
      • ‘The contending armies ravaged the north Italian plains from Piedmont to the Veneto, and touched off an epidemic of plague which soon spread to regions of the peninsula unaffected by the fighting.’
      • ‘Other infectious diseases that pose a threat include plague, tularemia, botulism and tuberculosis.’
      • ‘Rats can spread the plague, typhus and food poisoning.’
      • ‘The country has made headlines lately with the resurgence of preventable diseases such as plague, malaria, dengue fever and tuberculosis.’
      • ‘Common scourges found in the desert include plague, typhus, malaria, dengue fever, dysentery, cholera, and typhoid.’
      • ‘They could poison us with botulin, or try to infect us with the plague or anthrax.’
      • ‘In this way, they spread disease, plague, leprosy, typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, and so on.’
      disease, sickness
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    2. 1.2An unusually large number of insects or animals infesting a place and causing damage.
      ‘a plague of fleas’
      • ‘A plague of crickets swarmed through a train in York station, forcing hundreds of passengers to evacuate.’
      • ‘He ordered four men to stay behind at the base camp at Cooper's Creek to guard a stock of provisions against a plague of rats.’
      • ‘There's a plague of locusts gathering in Africa.’
      • ‘If anyone could rid the castle of its plague of rats, he would be rewarded with ten sacks of gold and her hand in marriage when she came of age.’
      • ‘If you can show me proof that Britain would be in the grip of a plague of foxes were it not for the ‘millions’ killed by hounds each year, then I would agree to a cull.’
      • ‘After the ruler's next refusal, a plague of locusts smote the land and Moses brought a darkness for three days.’
      • ‘But then an almost biblical plague of insects descended on the crops and began eating them.’
      • ‘There have been two earthquakes and a plague of locusts.’
      • ‘This house has a plague of small black millipedes.’
      • ‘No plague of locusts descends, the oceans don't boil over with frogs, and the apocalypse isn't ushered in because of our discovery.’
      • ‘The impact of these disasters was worsened by a major earthquake and a plague of locusts that destroyed newly planted crops.’
      • ‘He's been thrown into jail, endured unimaginable heat, insect plagues and a serious fall which had to be stitched without anesthetic.’
      • ‘Whole streets were blocked off by vegetable sellers, litter grew out of control, there was a plague of giant rats, whites fled and murder and other crimes soared.’
      • ‘Traffic was affected not only by the vicissitudes of the business cycle and the Panic of 1873 but also by flour mill explosions and even a plague of locusts.’
      • ‘Even a little bit of rain can be a burden, especially for those farmers who planted crops after rain over a month ago, only to see them consumed by a plague of locusts as they began to grow.’
      • ‘As if the people of Darfur, in western Sudan, didn't have enough to contend with, now there's the prospect of a plague of locusts.’
      • ‘Australia is battling its biggest plague of locusts in decades as billions of the insects hatch along the central east region.’
      • ‘When a plague of locusts and a bad drought struck the country last year, devastating the crops, the prospect of a famine in 2005 loomed large.’
      • ‘Experts are warning that Africa is on the brink of its worst plague of the insects for nearly 20 years.’
      • ‘An investigation by environmental health chiefs has failed to find the cause of a plague of flies bringing misery to a Rotherham neighbourhood.’
      huge number, infestation, epidemic, invasion, influx, swarm, multitude, host
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    3. 1.3[in singular]A thing causing trouble or irritation.
      ‘staff theft is usually the plague of restaurants’
      • ‘A worried mum is convinced a mobile phone mast is responsible for the plague of health problems affecting her children.’
      • ‘Avoiding death is generally a good outcome for any trip, and the latest gadgets are aimed at fending off the new plague of airline travel - deep vein thrombosis.’
      • ‘In the towns, cities and tourist centres, the plastic bag problem has become a plague; and attempts to cure it have begun to spring up.’
      • ‘In truth, the SEC's plan will force corporations to fend off a costly plague of frivolous proxy fights just as they fend off frivolous lawsuits.’
      • ‘By removing the exchange rate and interest rates from the direct control of Italian authorities, the plague of high inflation and high interest rates disappeared.’
      • ‘It seems to have set off a whole plague of linguistic confusion among commentators.’
      • ‘Both in his talk and in the subsequent question and answer session, he makes clear his concern about the current plague of voter apathy, though he does not see it as ‘apathy’.’
      • ‘But the eviction is just the first step towards rebuilding community spirit, which has been ruined by a plague of anti-social behaviour.’
      • ‘Doctors' leaders warn the amount of time available to patients with genuine problems is being reduced because of the plague of hypochondriacs.’
      • ‘Sentencing him to six years, he told him: ‘This kind of crime is a plague and people like you are a complete menace.’’
      • ‘Even at this distance, just at the edge of the system, the planet's plague of electrical storms was just about visible as tiny blue and white flashes all across its surface.’
      • ‘University professors, outraged by the sophistication of the cheating, have started to hit back with new ideas aimed at stemming what has become a virtual plague of plagiarism.’
      • ‘The recent scourge of illegal drugs in our nation has become a plague which negatively affects all of us, especially the youth in our society whom we value as our country's future.’
      • ‘To talk about an epidemic of obesity is like talking about a plague of inactivity or a contagion of overeating.’
      • ‘Sadly, I have seen first-hand in my counseling practice that the Jewish community is not immune to this plague.’
      • ‘Related to stress is the other plague of modern society - lack of deep, restful sleep.’
      • ‘To some parents, accustomed to the security of child-friendly TV schedules, the advent of the internet seemed like a plague of indecency intruding into the family home.’
      • ‘I like that definition because it hints at the possibility that the current plague of the book world - the winner-take-all mechanism - might one day disappear.’
      • ‘As the recurring plague of election speculation hit the Sunday newspapers again, the Lord Mayor's views on the issue will be of some interest.’
      • ‘This is how this type of misinformation spreads throughout the Air Force and infects every level with a plague of bad practices that are perpetuated internally.’
      bane, curse, scourge, affliction, blight, cancer, canker
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    4. 1.4archaic [in singular]Used as a curse or an expression of despair or disgust.
      ‘a plague on all their houses!’
      • ‘Perhaps the voters were so turned off by politicians they were saying a plague on both your houses?’
      • ‘We do feel the creator's (Anderson's) anger, in cursing them with a plague on both their houses, as frogs rain from the sky.’
      • ‘Other than that, I'd wish a plague on all their houses if I could muster enough spite.’
      • ‘A warning to Labour and the Liberal Democrats, this is not about confidence, a plague on all your houses.’
      • ‘Well, a plague on both their houses, we might say.’


  • 1 Cause continual trouble or distress to.

    ‘the problems that plagued the company’
    ‘he has been plagued by ill health’
    • ‘This is certainly a cure to maladies plaguing the society and a definite path not only towards self but also social development.’
    • ‘In Semarang, the capital of Central Java, the fuel shortage is still plaguing the city, pushing fuel prices up.’
    • ‘Water shortages are a problem plaguing many large cities in China.’
    • ‘Neighbours claim the road is plagued by youths causing trouble and today called for extra police patrols.’
    • ‘He added that much of the problems plaguing the agricultural sector were compounded by domestic inefficiencies.’
    • ‘The problem does not plague Shanghai alone, although Shanghai faces the biggest one in China.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, the many methodological problems that plague past opinion polls require cautious interpretation of their results.’
    • ‘He is clearly marketed to win mindshare over the superheroes that plague so much children's programming.’
    • ‘Two specialist teams armed with the latest surveillance technology will target troublemakers who plague estates throughout Bolton.’
    • ‘So, no awkward adolescents like him, no teenage angst, unrequited crushes or similar problems that plague parents.’
    • ‘Residents living near an Accrington park that has been plagued by young troublemakers are being urged to reclaim it.’
    • ‘The big threat on the horizon is deflation, though some observers say that curse already plagues the industry, which has been wringing out costs as it struggles to hold the line on car prices.’
    • ‘In building a market, though, it may fall victim to the troubles that plague trailblazing companies, analysts said.’
    • ‘Although trouble spots still plague the species, U.S. loon numbers appear, on the whole, to be holding steady.’
    • ‘Decentralization leads to greater ownership, which in turn overcomes the collective action problems that plague all political campaigns.’
    • ‘The troubles that plagued it during filming may well end up helping it at the box office.’
    • ‘Trouble would likewise plague her marriage until the union ended abruptly with the mysterious death of her husband in the spring of 1889.’
    • ‘For the previous half year he has been plagued by attacks of ill-health and the symptoms of a weak heart.’
    • ‘For most of that time he has been plagued by back trouble and this summer he has failed to find his best form.’
    • ‘No, the real curse here is the so-called sophomore curse that often plagues the follow-up projects of successful movies.’
    afflict, bedevil, cause suffering to, torture, torment, trouble, beset, dog, curse, rack
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    1. 1.1Pester or harass (someone) continually.
      ‘he was plaguing her with questions’
      • ‘After all, he was plaguing his people because he would not let him go.’
      • ‘In January this year, York police moved to clear the streets of beggars officers said were plaguing tourists and denting York's image.’
      • ‘He, who blamed the end of his marriage on the loss of his house, later moved into a tiny flat and began plaguing him with letters asking for support.’
      • ‘If you make money your god, it will plague you like the devil.’
      • ‘However, it's also a hassle shopping there because you get plagued by people wanting your money.’
      • ‘Scammers plague people who are buying a new car for the first time.’
      • ‘They countered his discipline by continually plaguing him with giant hound dogs he never wanted.’
      pester, harass, badger, bother, torment, persecute, bedevil, harry, hound, disturb, trouble, be a nuisance to, keep after, irritate, worry, nag, annoy, vex, molest
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Late Middle English: Latin plaga stroke, wound probably from Greek ( Doric dialect) plaga, from a base meaning strike.