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 If untreated, rabies is a fatal disease of the nervous system that can affect warm-blooded animals and humans. Olivia Lloyd, Sun Sentinel, 20 July 2022 Notably, the only way to test for rabies in canines is to test their brain, which requires them to be put down. Libby Cathey, ABC News, 6 Apr. 2022 Last year, bats tested positive for rabies in Orland Park and Crestwood. Bill Jones, chicagotribune.com, 9 Nov. 2021 The strange incident marks the first human case of rabies in the state since 1954. Dan Heching, PEOPLE.com, 28 Sep. 2021 Both Cullens and Myers are skeptical that rabies could have been a factor, as the disease is unheard of in the Pacific Northwest’s cougar population. Wes Siler, Outside Online, 23 May 2018 Another crucial service now on hold in the borough is vaccinating animals against rabies, a virus that infects mammals including humans and spreads through animal bites. Alena Naiden, Anchorage Daily News, 27 Apr. 2022 Any pet going from a foreign country into the EU must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and over the age of 12 weeks. Lilit Marcus, CNN, 12 Apr. 2022 The mother fox was euthanized that same day and tested positive for the rabies virus, DC Health said in an email. Jessica Flores, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of rabies was circa 1598

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Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Rabies.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rabies. Accessed 20 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for rabies


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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