Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma
late 14c., plage, "affliction, calamity, evil, scourge;" early 15c., "malignant disease," from Old French plage (14c.), from Late Latin plaga, 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 *plak- (2) "to strike, to hit" (cf. Greek plazein "to drive away," plessein "to beat, strike;" Old English flocan "to strike, beat;" Gothic flokan "to bewail;" German fluchen, Old Frisian floka "to curse").
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.
late 15c., from Middle Dutch plaghen, from plaghe (n.) "plague" (see plague (n.)). Sense of "bother, annoy" it is first recorded 1590s. Related: Plagued; plaguing.
A highly infectious, usually fatal, epidemic disease, especially bubonic plague.
a "stroke" of affliction, or disease. Sent as a divine chastisement (Num. 11:33; 14:37; 16:46-49; 2 Sam. 24:21). Painful afflictions or diseases, (Lev. 13:3, 5, 30; 1 Kings 8:37), or severe calamity (Mark 5:29; Luke 7:21), or the judgment of God, so called (Ex. 9:14). Plagues of Egypt were ten in number. (1.) The river Nile was turned into blood, and the fish died, and the river stank, so that the Egyptians loathed to drink of the river (Ex. 7:14-25). (2.) The plague of frogs (Ex. 8:1-15). (3.) The plague of lice (Heb. kinnim, properly gnats or mosquitoes; comp. Ps. 78:45; 105:31), "out of the dust of the land" (Ex. 8:16-19). (4.) The plague of flies (Heb. arob, rendered by the LXX. dog-fly), Ex. 8:21-24. (5.) The murrain (Ex.9:1-7), or epidemic pestilence which carried off vast numbers of cattle in the field. Warning was given of its coming. (6.) The sixth plague, of "boils and blains," like the third, was sent without warning (Ex.9:8-12). It is called (Deut. 28:27) "the botch of Egypt," A.V.; but in R.V., "the boil of Egypt." "The magicians could not stand before Moses" because of it. (7.) The plague of hail, with fire and thunder (Ex. 9:13-33). Warning was given of its coming. (Comp. Ps. 18:13; 105:32, 33). (8.) The plague of locusts, which covered the whole face of the earth, so that the land was darkened with them (Ex. 10:12-15). The Hebrew name of this insect, _arbeh_, points to the "multitudinous" character of this visitation. Warning was given before this plague came. (9.) After a short interval the plague of darkness succeeded that of the locusts; and it came without any special warning (Ex. 10:21-29). The darkness covered "all the land of Egypt" to such an extent that "they saw not one another." It did not, however, extend to the land of Goshen. (10.) The last and most fearful of these plagues was the death of the first-born of man and of beast (Ex. 11:4, 5; 12:29,30). The exact time of the visitation was announced, "about midnight", which would add to the horror of the infliction. Its extent also is specified, from the first-born of the king to the first-born of the humblest slave, and all the first-born of beasts. But from this plague the Hebrews were completely exempted. The Lord "put a difference" between them and the Egyptians. (See PASSOVER.)