a. Producing or breeding infectious disease.
b. Infected with or contaminated by an epidemic disease.
2. Morally evil or deadly; pernicious.
3. Bothersome; annoying.
[Middle English, from Latin pestiferus, variant of pestifer : pestis, pestilence; see PEST + -fer, -fer.]
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.