1. An annoying person or thing; a nuisance.
2. An organism, typically an insect, that sickens or annoys humans, hampers human activities, damages crops or food products, harms livestock, or causes damage to buildings.
3. A deadly epidemic disease; a pestilence.
[French peste, pestilence, from Old French, from Latin pestis.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.