IATE Term of the Week: Epidemic

feature epidemic

epidemic bannerHave you heard about the recent epidemic­? Yes, the 2019 Novel Coronavirus epidemic is the target. The word appears everywhere on the news nowadays, so you could not miss it.

Therefore, the IATE term of this week is “epidemic”, which is characterized by a “sudden outbreak of infectious disease that spreads rapidly through the population, affecting a large proportion of people”. In consequence, an epidemic is easily recognized when an increasing number of people is affected by the same symptoms. To be specific, this term has its origins in the Latin/Greek word epidēmia, of which epi means “among, upon” and dēmia means “people, district”. Then the meaning of the term was “a stay in a place; prevalence of an epidemic disease”.

Clearly, the 2019 Novel Coronavirus represents an accurate example as it caused an epidemic. It is defined as a “family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome)”. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus’ symptoms encompass breathing difficulties, fever, and cough. In the most extreme cases, this virus may engender pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. The World Health Organization was alerted on the brink of 2020. Since then, as featured in the graph above, the rate of the term “epidemic” in worldwide trending internet research has consequently increased.







Besides, all countries are not equal when it comes to face such a health issue as an epidemic. The map aside helps illustrate it.

This chart aims at ranking countries and territories across the world that are most to least prepared to respond to an epidemic or pandemic. It can be noticed that the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are the most prepared.

Check out the index of the map for more details.



Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).  World Health Organization.

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 (Accessed 28/01/2020)

Coronavirus. World Health Organization.

https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus (Accessed 28/01/2020)

Epidemic. Online Etymology Dictionary.

https://www.etymonline.com/word/epidemic (Accessed 28/01/2020)

The Countries Best And Worst Prepared For An Epidemic [Infographic].

https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2020/01/27/the-countries-best-and-worst-prepared-for-an-epidemic-infographic/#696c04c55799  (Accessed 28/01/2020)

GHS Index 2019 https://www.ghsindex.org/#l-section–map  (Accessed 28/01/2020)

Google Trends “epidemic” https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?q=epidemic (Accessed 28/01/2020)


Written by Samira Joineau

Communication Study Visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg. She holds a Bachelor degree in Languages, Literature and Foreign Civilizations (English). She is a student of the Master’s Programme Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg.