Etymology
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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."

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pestilential (adj.)

late 14c., pestilencial, "producing or tending to produce an infectious disease, characterized by the plague," from Medieval Latin pestilentialis, from Latin pestilentia "plague" (see pestilence). Weakened sense of "mischievous, pernicious" is from 1530s. Related: Pestilentially.

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loimic (adj.)
"pertaining to plague," 1822, from Greek loimikos "pestilential," from loimos "plague, pestilence," metaphorically "pernicious man," most often taken as a variant of limos "hunger, famine," a word of uncertain origin. Related: Loimography (1706).
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skelm (n.)
also skellum, "a rascal, scamp, scoundrel," 1610s, from Dutch schelm, from German schelm "rascal, devil, pestilence, etc.," from Old High German scelmo. Used by Dryden, but "Now arch. (except in S.Africa)" [OED].
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plague (n.)

late 14c., plage, "affliction, calamity, evil, scourge, severe trouble or vexation;" early 15c., "malignant disease," from Old French plage (14c., Modern French plaie), from Late Latin plaga "affliction; slaughter, destruction," used in Vulgate for "pestilence," from Latin plaga "stroke, wound," probably from root of plangere "to strike, lament (by beating the breast)," from or cognate with Greek (Doric) plaga "blow" (from PIE root *plak- (2) "to strike").

Sometimes in Middle English also "a strike, a blow" (late 14c.). The Latin word also is the source of Old Irish plag (genitive plaige) "plague, pestilence," German Plage, Dutch plaage. Meaning "epidemic that causes many deaths" is from 1540s; specifically in reference to bubonic plague from c. 1600. Modern spelling follows French, which had plague from 15c. Weakened sense of "anything annoying" is from c. 1600.

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devour (v.)

early 14c., devouren, of beasts or persons, "to eat up entirely, eat ravenously, consume as food," from Old French devorer (12c.) "devour, swallow up, engulf," from Latin devorare "swallow down, accept eagerly," from de "down" (see de-) + vorare "to swallow" (from PIE root *gwora- "food, devouring"). Of persons or inanimate agents (fire, pestilence, etc.) "consume destructively or wastefully," late 14c. To "swallow up" figuratively (a book, etc.) from 1580s; to "take in ravenously" with the eyes, 1620s. Related: Devoured; devouring.

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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.

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Black Death (n.)

"bubonic/pneumonic plague epidemic of 1347-51 in Europe," a modern name, introduced in English 1823 by Elizabeth Penrose's history of England. The contemporary 14c. name for it in most European languages was something like "the great dying" or simply "the plague;" in English it was the pestilence (or, looking back after its return in 1361-2, the first pestilence).

The term "Black Death" first turns up in 16c. Swedish and Danish chronicles, but it is used in reference to a visitation of plague in Iceland (which had been spared in the earlier outbreaks) in 1402-3 that carried off much of the population there. The exact sense of "black" is not clear. The term appears in English translations of the Scandinavian works from 1750s. It was picked up in German c. 1770 and applied to the earlier outbreak and was taken from there into English in that sense.

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murrain (n.)

early 14c., morein, "disease or plague among people or animals or both," from Anglo-French moryn, Old French moraine "pestilence" (12c.), probably from mourir "to die," from Latin mori "to die," from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm" (also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death). After c. 1600 used exclusively of domestic animals (especially cattle).

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epilepsy (n.)

1570s, from French epilepsie (16c.), from Late Latin epilepsia, from Greek epilepsis "epilepsy," literally "a seizure," from epilambanein "to lay hold of, seize upon, attack," especially of diseases, but also of events, armies, etc., from epi "upon" (see epi-) + lepsis "seizure," from leps-, future stem of lambanein "take hold of, grasp" (see lemma).

Earlier was epilencie (late 14c.), from French epilence, a variant form influenced by pestilence. The native name in English was falling sickness (Old English fylleseoc, glossing epilepsia).

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