her·​pes | \ˈhər-(ˌ)pēz \

Definition of herpes 

: any of several inflammatory diseases of the skin caused by herpesviruses and characterized by clusters of vesicles especially : herpes simplex

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Other Words from herpes

herpetic \(ˌ)hər-​ˈpe-​tik \ adjective

Examples of herpes in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Social Stigma Direct health impacts aren’t the only reason scientists are so urgently looking for a herpes cure. Becky Little, Smithsonian, "Can We Gene-Edit Herpes Away?," 23 Mar. 2018 Pam Belluck at The New York Times reports that two new studies show a relationship between two types of herpes viruses and the development of Alzheimer’s. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Childhood Virus May Have a Role in Alzheimer’s Disease," 23 June 2018 Just under half, 48 percent, of people aged 14 to 49 have herpes simplex 1, HSV-1, commonly known as the cold sore virus. Maggie Fox /, NBC News, "Half of Americans have cold sore virus; 12 percent genital herpes," 7 Feb. 2018 In the new study, the researchers noted that herpes viruses were involved in networks that regulate these amyloid precursor proteins. Fiza Pirani, ajc, "Herpes virus may be linked to Alzheimer’s, study suggests," 22 June 2018 But other viruses, including influenza and variola (pox) have been found in archaeological human remains as much as 400 years old, and Mühlemann says that others like herpes viruses, parvoviruses, and adenoviruses might be good candidates. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Genghis Khan’s Mongol horde probably had rampant Hepatitis B," 11 May 2018 Known for his sometimes theatrical behavior, Traywick injected himself with an untested herpes treatment earlier this year before an audience at an Austin, Texas convention in February, according to the Mirror. William Thornton, AL.com, "Biohacker CEO Aaron Traywick, Montevallo grad, found dead," 1 May 2018 There are a few exceptions though - herpes simplex virus and varicella can cause a particular type of rash that resembles tiny blisters, are very contagious, and typically require antiviral medication. Gabriela Moraru, M.d., miamiherald, "My child has a rash! What should I do? | Miami Herald," 1 May 2018 Oral herpes is usually acquired early in childhood or adolescence from nonsexual contact with saliva. Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times, "Herpes Is Slowly Retreating, but the Infection Remains Common," 9 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'herpes.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of herpes

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for herpes

Latin, from Greek herpēs, from herpein to creep — more at serpent

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Time Traveler for herpes

The first known use of herpes was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for herpes



English Language Learners Definition of herpes

: a disease that causes painful spots on the skin


her·​pes | \ˈhər-(ˌ)pēz \

Medical Definition of herpes 

: any of several inflammatory diseases of the skin caused by herpesviruses and characterized by clusters of vesicles especially : herpes simplex

More from Merriam-Webster on herpes

Spanish Central: Translation of herpes

Nglish: Translation of herpes for Spanish Speakers

Comments on herpes

What made you want to look up herpes? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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