(used with a singular or plural verb) Pathology.
an acute infectious disease occurring mostly in children, characterized by catarrhal and febrile symptoms and an eruption of small red spots; rubeola.
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.

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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
measles (ˈmiːzəlz)
1.  See also German measles morbilli, Technical names: rubeola 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 limbs
2.  a disease of cattle, sheep, and pigs, caused by infestation with tapeworm larvae
[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 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

early 14c., pl. of M.E. masel, probably from M.Du. masel "blemish" (in pl. "measles"), from P.Gmc. *mas- "spot, blemish" (cf. O.H.G. masla "blood-blister"). There may have been an O.E. cognate, but if so it has not been recorded. Probably influenced by O.Fr. mesel "leprous," from L. misellus "wretched,
unfortunate," dim. of miser "wretched."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

measles mea·sles (mē'zəlz)

  1. An acute contagious viral disease usually occurring in childhood and characterized by eruption of red spots on the skin, fever, and catarrhal symptoms. Also called rubeola.

  2. Black measles.

  3. Any of several other diseases, especially German measles, that cause similar but milder symptoms.

  4. 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.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
measles   (mē'zəlz)  Pronunciation Key 
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 © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

measles definition

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 American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
She was often ill and became bedridden for an entire year after a bout with the
Every once in a while, there's news of a measles outbreak.
Outbreaks of malaria, measles and diarrhoea have been worsened by contaminated
Other tasks, such as laying a road or delivering a measles jab, rely on the
  efforts of many more people.
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