See also: plagué


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From Middle English plage, borrowed from Old French plage, from Latin plāga (blow, wound), from plangō (to strike). Cognate with Middle Dutch plāghe (> Dutch plaag), plāghen (> Dutch plagen); Middle Low German plāge; Middle High German plāge, pflāge (> German Plage); plāgen (> German plagen); Swedish plåga; French plaie, Occitan plaga. Doublet of plaga. Displaced native Old English wōl.


  • enPR: plāg, IPA(key): /pleɪɡ/, [pʰl̥eɪɡ]
  • (US, nonstandard) IPA(key): /plɛɡ/, [pʰɫ̥ɛːɡ]
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪɡ


plague (countable and uncountable, plural plagues)

  1. (often used with the, sometimes capitalized: the Plague) The bubonic plague, the pestilent disease caused by the virulent bacterium Yersinia pestis.
    • 1722, Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year[1]:
      It was about the beginning of September, 1664, that I, among the rest of my neighbours, heard in ordinary discourse that the plague was returned again in Holland [] It mattered not from whence it came; but all agreed it was come into Holland again.
  2. (pathology) An epidemic or pandemic caused by any pestilence, but specifically by the above disease.
  3. A widespread affliction, calamity or destructive influx, especially when seen as divine retribution.
    Ten Biblical plagues over Egypt, ranging from locusts to the death of the crown prince, finally forced Pharaoh to let Moses's people go.
  4. (figurative) A grave nuisance, whatever greatly irritates.
    Bart is an utter plague; his pranks never cease.
    • 2022 April 30, Biden, Joe, President Biden complete remarks at 2022 White House Correspondents' Dinner (C-SPAN)[2], Washington, D.C.: C-SPAN, archived from the original on 01 May 2022, 0:36 from the start:
      This is the first time a President has attended this dinner in six years. It's understandable- we had a horrible plague, followed by two years of COVID!
  5. (ornithology) A group of common grackles.


Derived termsEdit

Terms derived from plague (noun)


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


plague (third-person singular simple present plagues, present participle plaguing, simple past and past participle plagued)

  1. (transitive) To harass, pester or annoy someone persistently or incessantly.
    • 1837, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Ethel Churchill: Or, The Two Brides. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, page 238:
      "Moreover," replied Congreve, "it was a sort of flattery to the duke. It showed that she valued the power of plaguing him more than her own fairest ornament. Flattery is the real secret by which a woman keeps her lover."
    • 2018 February, Robert Draper, “They are Watching You—and Everything Else on the Planet: Technology and Our Increasing Demand for Security have Put Us All under Surveillance. Is Privacy Becoming just a Memory?”, in National Geographic[3], Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 14 June 2018:
      [W]hat we have here, they believe, are two members of gangs that have been plaguing Islington for more than a year. They snatch smartphones from pedestrians, then sell the items on the black market.
    • 2015 April 15, Jonathan Martin, “For a Clinton, It’s Not Hard to Be Humble in an Effort to Regain Power”, in The New York Times[4]:
      Just as Mr. Clinton began a comeback with a down-home plea for forgiveness, Mrs. Clinton now seems determined to prove, perhaps to the point of overcompensation, that she will not repeat the mistakes that plagued her 2008 campaign.
  2. (transitive) To afflict with a disease or other calamity.
    Natural catastrophes plagued the colonists till they abandoned the pestilent marshland.

Derived termsEdit





  1. inflection of plagar:
    1. first/third-person singular present subjunctive
    2. third-person singular imperative