ra·​bies | \ˈrā-bēz \
plural rabies

Definition of rabies 

: an acute virus disease of the nervous system of mammals that is caused by a rhabdovirus (species Rabies virus of the genus Lyssavirus) usually transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal and that is characterized typically by increased salivation, abnormal behavior, and eventual paralysis and death when untreated

Examples of rabies in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

But there hasn't been a rabies death in the state since 1968, when a young boy was bitten by an infected dog in Cowley County. Andy Marso, kansascity, "After JoCo bat tests positive for rabies, health department warns residents of danger," 10 July 2018 If your dog is less than three months old, a rabies certification is not required, but proof of the dog's age must be provided if requested. Tanya Wildt, Detroit Free Press, "Do you need a passport to drive to Canada?," 2 July 2018 Rabid bats have also been found in suburban Cook, Kane, Kankakee, McHenry, and Winnebago Counties this year, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health rabies surveillance map which is updated weekly on Wednesdays. Erin Hegarty, Naperville Sun, "Rabid bat removed from Naperville home," 11 June 2018 The dog is under a 10-day rabies quarantine, police said. Kaitlyn Schwers, kansascity, "'Wolf hybrid' taken by Wisconsin cops after a kid was bitten. Some defend the dog | The Kansas City Star," 23 May 2018 The document must contain vaccination and rabies records, plus proof of a tapeworm test, depending on the country. Andrea Sachs, chicagotribune.com, "Amid safety concerns, some pet owners embrace alternatives to flying," 30 Apr. 2018 Wash any wounds with soap and water to decrease the chance of infection, and see a doctor before considering the need for a rabies vaccination, known as postexposure prophylaxis. Brittany Britto, baltimoresun.com, "Explainer: On groundhogs, rabies and what we know (and don't know) about Carroll's rodents," 9 May 2018 Pet owners must bring rabies certification paperwork. Houston Chronicle, "Fort Bend County community calendar," 30 Apr. 2018 This child presented a perfect picture of this type of rabies state. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Homeopath “treated” 4-yr-old boy’s behavior problems with saliva from rabid dog," 18 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rabies.' 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 rabies

circa 1598, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for rabies

New Latin, from Latin, madness, from rabere to rave — more at rage

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Dictionary Entries near rabies

Rabi al-Thani







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Time Traveler for rabies

The first known use of rabies was circa 1598

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More Definitions for rabies



English Language Learners Definition of rabies

: a very serious and often fatal disease that affects animals (such as dogs) and that can be passed on to people if an infected animal bites them


ra·​bies | \ˈrā-bēz \

Kids Definition of rabies

: a deadly disease of the nervous system that affects animals and can be passed on to people by the bite of an infected animal


ra·​bies | \ˈrā-bēz \
plural rabies

Medical Definition of rabies 

: an acute virus disease of the central nervous system of warm-blooded animals that is transmitted in infected saliva usually through the bite of a rabid animal and that is typically characterized by fatigue, headache, fever, and general discomfort progressing to increased salivation, excitability, confusion, muscle weakness and spasms, hallucinations, abnormal behavior, paralysis, coma, and death

Note: Rabies has a long incubation period that averages several weeks but may be as long as several years. Once the symptoms appear, rabies is typically untreatable and fatal. If received soon after the bite of a rabid animal, treatment is usually effective and involves administration of immune globulin and a series of rabies vaccine injections. Rabies is caused by a rhabdovirus (species Rabies virus of the genus Lyssavirus.

called also hydrophobia

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Comments on rabies

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


to express warning or disapproval

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