Printable Version
Pronunciation: pæn-dem-ik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun

Meaning: Widespread, affecting everyone; spreading throughout an entire population, country, or the world.

Notes: This Good Word is not to be confused with epidemic, which means "spreading rapidly and extensively by infection". Like epidemic, this word may be used as a noun, too. However, you may speak of the extent of a disease's pandemicity, if it pleases you. To convert it to an adverb, use the usual suffix, -ly.

In Play: Our long-time word-suggester, Susan Lister, thought we should look at today's word because it has become so topical recently. "The swine influenza is threatening to become pandemic this winter" is a popular sentiment expressed in the news these days. However, this is a word that begs wider application: "Hip-hop rap has become a pandemic epidemic in the U.S." Inarticulate speech is fast becoming pandemic, too. I wonder if the two are related?

Word History: Today's wonderful word came to us from Late Latin pandemus, a borrowing from Greek pandemos "of all the people", a compound based on pan "all" + demos "people." Pandemonium (pan- + daimon "demon" + ium), a gift of the poet John Milton, originally left the listener with an image of a mischief of demons ripping about. Panoply is another word based on pan, from Greek panopli pan- + hopla "arms, armor". Demos, of course, also appears in democracy, demography, and demagogue (watch the [a] in dema-), originally just "a leader of the people".

Dr. Goodword,

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