Epidemic and endemic are easily confused words.
The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.
Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.
Epidemic (pronounced “ep-ih-dem-ick”) has multiple meanings.
- As a noun, it means a sudden prevalence of a disease in locations where it doesn’t normally appear. It rapidly spreads from person to person.
- As an adjective, it describes something widespread, affecting many people at once.
Endemic (pronounced “ihn-dem-ick”) has multiple meanings.
- As a noun, it means a thing that is characteristic or has a history in a particular place on the globe.
- As an adjective, it describes something as belonging to an area’s culture, climate, people, etc.
- As a noun, it can specifically mean a disease found in a geographic area. For example, tropical areas that have certain fevers associated with them.
The following story uses both words correctly:
Enid was fascinated to learn that the Utuvarian flu epidemic in 1900 nearly wiped out a tribe in Peru that she was studying for anthropology class. Prevalent thought of these peoples was that something more recurring and endemic to the area had been the culprit. For example, the animals in their diet being killed by nearby colonists, a series of devastating storms, or loss of forest habitat.