Etymology
Advertisement
pest (n.)

1550s (in imprecations, "a pest upon ____," etc.), "plague, pestilence, epidemic disease," from French peste (1530s), from Latin pestis "deadly contagious disease; a curse, bane," a word of uncertain origin. Meaning "any noxious, destructive, or troublesome person or thing" is attested by c. 1600. Pest-house "hospital for persons suffering from infectious diseases" is from 1610s.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
pesticide (n.)

"substance for destroying pests, especially insects infesting gardens, homes, or crops," 1939, from English pest + Latinate -cide "killer."

Related entries & more 
pesky (adj.)

"troublesome, annoying," 1775, originally in New England dialect, perhaps a dialectal formation from pest (OED compares plaguy "confounded, annoying, disagreeable"). Partridge suggests an origin in Essex dialect. Sometimes in American-English colloquial use a mere intensive, "excessively." Related: Peskily.

Related entries & more 
pestilent (adj.)

late 14c., "contaminated with dangerous disease; deadly, poisonous," from Latin pestilentem (nominative pestilens) "infected, unhealthy," from pestilis "of the nature of a plague," from pestis "deadly contagious disease" (see pest (n.)). Transferred sense of "mischievous, pernicious, hurtful to health or morals" is from 1510s; weakened sense of "troublesome" is from 1590s. Related: Pestilently.

Related entries & more 
pestilence (n.)

c. 1300, "any infectious or contagious disease, fatal epidemic," from Old French pestilence "plague, epidemic" (12c.) and directly from Latin pestilentia "a plague, an unwholesome atmosphere," noun of condition from pestilentem (nominative pestilens) "infected, unwholesome, noxious," from pestis "deadly disease, plague" (see pest).

Also in Middle English "wickedness, evil, sin, a vice, that which is morally pestilential."

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
pestiferous (adj.)

mid-15c., pestiferus, "bringing plague, plague-bearing, pestilential," also in a weakened or figurative sense, "mischievous, malignant, pernicious, hurtful to morals or society," from of Latin pestiferus "that brings plague or destruction," variant of pestifer "bringing plague, destructive, noxious," from pestis "plague" (see pest) + ferre "carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children." Related: Pestiferously; pestiferousness.

Related entries & more 
pester (v.)

1520s, "to clog, entangle, encumber" (a sense now obsolete), probably a shortening of empester, impester, from French empestrer "place in an embarrassing situation" (Modern French empêtrer, Walloon epasturer), from Vulgar Latin *impastoriare "to hobble" (an animal), from Latin im- "in" + Medieval Latin pastoria (chorda) "(rope) to hobble an animal," from Latin pastoria, fem. of pastorius "of a herdsman," from pastor "herdsman" (see pastor (n.)).

Or directly from the French word. The sense of "annoy, disturb, trouble" (1560s) is from influence of pest. Related: Pestered; pestering.

Related entries & more 
zapper (n.)
electrical pest-killer, 1970, from zap.
Related entries & more 
Budapest 
Hungarian capital, formed 1872 from merger of two cities on opposite shores of the Danube, Buda (probably from a word originally meaning "water") + Pest, a Hungarian word meaning "furnace, oven, cove," also in Slavic (compare Russian pech'). Ofen, literally "oven," was the old German name for the place.
Related entries & more 
shoo-fly (interj.)
admonition to a pest, by 1867 (in baseball slang), from shoo (v.) + fly (n.). Popularized by a Dan Bryant minstrel song c. 1870, which launched it as a catch-phrase that, according to H.L. Mencken, "afflicted the American people for at least two years." Shoo-fly pie is attested from 1935.
Related entries & more