Definition of measles in US English:


plural noun

often the measles
  • 1treated as singular An infectious viral disease causing fever and a red rash on the skin, typically occurring in childhood.

    ‘a severe case of the measles’
    • ‘But the youngest died of measles at a very young age.’
    • ‘Anne tells Kitty that she is worried about Daddy, who has a fever and a rash, which looks like measles.’
    • ‘Because of vaccine shortages, such diseases as whooping cough, measles, mumps, and even polio (which had been all but eradicated) have also increased.’
    • ‘The serum was also used in vaccines against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria and whooping cough until as late as 1993.’
    • ‘As a virulent strain of the measles spreads among the students, the town doctor puts Plumfield under quarantine.’
    • ‘I'm filling in for my cousin who has the measles.’
    • ‘Higher temperatures will mean increased incidences of vector-borne diseases like malaria, dengue and measles.’
    • ‘But here you are and here I am, and you've got the measles.’
    • ‘Thousands of the Aztecs died from ordinary diseases - measles and the flu.’
    • ‘Johnny would probably get pneumonia, or a childhood disease such as whooping cough or measles, and die.’
    • ‘I heard today that some of the men have come down with the measles and some have died from it.’
    • ‘She had her rubella vaccination when she was fourteen, but when she was sixteen, she still caught the measles.’
    • ‘Maybe I should come down with a case of the measles before Friday.’
    • ‘Sven Wilson finds that soldiers who became ill with measles or respiratory illness while serving were likely to suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in their old age.’
    • ‘The immunization level for specific diseases such as polio and measles now surpasses 90 percent.’
    • ‘The fact that we didn't see an outbreak of epidemics and disease like cholera or measles was partly due to the fact that people gave funds quickly.’
    • ‘Native Americans used the leathery leaves in a healing tea for measles.’
    • ‘Children often died of measles or diphtheria in the late 1800s.’
    • ‘In Africa, however, measles is still killing children.’
    • ‘These include measles and some foodborne infections.’
    1. 1.1 A disease of pigs and other animals caused by the encysted 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’.