Endemic and Epidemic

Previous Page

Endemic and Epidemic :

“Endemic” is in danger of losing its core meaning through confusion with “epidemic.” An endemic condition is one characteristic of a particular region, population, or environment:

“sore thumbs are endemic among teen text-messagers.”

A condition need not affect a majority or even a very large number of people in a population to be endemic. In biology, an endemic disease is one that is maintained locally without the need for outside influence:

“Cholera is endemic in Kolkata.”

It keeps recurring there, but still only a small minority of the population gets cholera.

An epidemic condition is widespread, rampant:

“Overindulgence in fatty foods in epidemic throughout the world.”

The dominance of the noun “epidemic” (“the threat of a flu epidemic”) may make people reluctant to use it as an adjective (“flu may become epidemic”) but both uses are legitimate.

It’s best to stick with “epidemic” unless you have a specific need for the technical term “endemic.”

Common Errors Index

From Endemic and Epidemic to HOME PAGE