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measles Line breaks: mea¦sles
Pronunciation: /ˈmiːz(ə)lz/

Definition of measles in English:

plural noun

[treated as singular]
1An infectious viral disease causing fever and a red rash, typically occurring in childhood: women queue to have their children immunized against measles a severe case of the measles
More example sentences
  • Higher temperatures will mean increased incidences of vector-borne diseases like malaria, dengue and measles.
  • Thousands of the Aztecs died from ordinary diseases - measles and the flu.
  • Because of vaccine shortages, such diseases as whooping cough, measles, mumps, and even polio (which had been all but eradicated) have also increased.
1.1A disease of pigs and other animals caused by the larvae of the human tapeworm.


Middle English maseles, probably from Middle Dutch masel 'pustule' (compare with modern Dutch mazelen 'measles'). The spelling change was due to association with Middle English mesel 'leprous, leprosy'.

  • The spelling in Middle English was maseles, probably from Middle Dutch masel ‘pustule’. The spelling change was from association with Middle English mesel ‘leprous, leprosy’. Measly dates from the late 16th century when it described a pig or pork infected with measles; the current sense ‘contemptibly small, mean’ dates from the mid 19th century.

Definition of measles in:
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