[mee-zuh lz]


(used with a singular or plural verb) Pathology.
  1. an acute infectious disease occurring mostly in children, characterized by catarrhal and febrile symptoms and an eruption of small red spots; rubeola.
  2. any of certain other eruptive diseases.Compare German measles.
Veterinary Pathology. a disease in swine and other animals caused by the larvae of certain tapeworms of the genus Taenia.
(used with a plural verb) the larvae that cause measles in swine and other animals, and that upon maturation produce trichinosis in humans.

Origin of measles

1275–1325; Middle English mesels, variant of maseles (plural); cognate with Dutch maselen (plural), Middle Dutch masel; akin to German Masern measles, plural of Maser speck Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for measles

Contemporary Examples of measles

Historical Examples of measles

  • I've got him in another barn; that stuff's as catchin' as measles.


    W. A. Fraser

  • It cheered him in the measles, it comforted him in the mumps.

  • But there are some things you get without buyin'—the measles, for instance.

    Cy Whittaker's Place

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Samuel is as susceptible to pretty girls as children are to the measles.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • When I was about twenty, I guess, and laid up with the measles.

    The Portygee

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for measles


noun (functioning as singular or plural)

a highly contagious viral disease common in children, characterized by fever, profuse nasal discharge of mucus, conjunctivitis, and a rash of small red spots spreading from the forehead down to the limbsTechnical names: morbilli, rubeola See also German measles
a disease of cattle, sheep, and pigs, caused by infestation with tapeworm larvae

Word Origin for measles

C14: from Middle Low German masele spot on the skin; influenced by Middle English mesel leper, from Latin misellus, diminutive of miser wretched
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for measles

infectious disease, early 14c., plural of Middle English masel, perhaps from Middle Dutch masel "blemish" (in plural "measles") or Middle Low German masele, from Proto-Germanic *mas- "spot, blemish" (cf. Old High German masla "blood-blister," German Masern "measles").

There might have been an Old English cognate, but if so it has not been recorded. Form probably influenced by Middle English mesel "leprous" (late 13c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

measles in Medicine




An acute contagious viral disease usually occurring in childhood and characterized by eruption of red spots on the skin, fever, and catarrhal symptoms.rubeola
Black measles.
Any of several other diseases, especially German measles, that cause similar but milder symptoms.
A disease of cattle and swine caused by tapeworm larvae.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

measles in Science



An infectious disease caused by the rubeola virus of the genus Morbillivirus, characterized by fever, cough, and a rash that begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body. Vaccinations, usually given in early childhood, confer immunity to measles. Also called rubeola
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

measles in Culture


An acute and contagious disease caused by a virus and characterized by the outbreak of small red spots on the skin. Measles occurs most often in school-age children. (Compare German measles.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.