ra·​bies | \ ˈrā-bēz How to pronounce rabies (audio) \
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 The couple found out about the rabies 24 hours later, the first case in the area in over a year. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 27 Apr. 2021 Starting Monday, a helicopter will drop oral rabies vaccine baits intended for raccoons and other wildlife over portions of Barnstable and Plymouth counties, the Cape Cod Times reports. NBC News, 2 May 2021 The health department hopes to resume offering their low-cost rabies vaccination clinics this fall. Carroll County Times Staff, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, 21 Apr. 2021 Licenses were good for as long as a rabies vaccination — up to three years, Ulrich said. Matt Mckinney, Star Tribune, 6 Mar. 2021 No date has been set for COVID-19 discussions, but the panel has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday to discuss rabies and dengue vaccines. Editors, USA TODAY, 5 May 2021 While the medical crew performs the exam and vaccinations, a clerk completes the rabies certificate and another handles payment. chicagotribune.com, 4 May 2021 Even though the mRNA technology used by Pfizer and Moderna is new, it’s actually been trialed years ago in smaller groups, in diseases like HIV and rabies. Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 30 Apr. 2021 Raccoons and foxes spread rabies and other diseases…the list goes on. BostonGlobe.com, 29 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for rabies

Time Traveler

The first known use of rabies was circa 1598

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Statistics for rabies

Last Updated

4 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rabies.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rabies. Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce rabies (audio) \

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 How to pronounce rabies (audio) \
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

More from Merriam-Webster on rabies

Nglish: Translation of rabies for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rabies for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about rabies


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