smallpox

noun
small·​pox | \ ˈsmȯl-ˌpäks How to pronounce smallpox (audio) \

Definition of smallpox

: an acute contagious febrile disease of humans that is caused by a poxvirus (species Variola virus of the genus Orthopoxvirus), is characterized by a skin eruption with pustules, sloughing, and scar formation, and is believed to have been eradicated globally by widespread vaccination

called also variola

Examples of smallpox in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The order will suspend research into organisms that cause Ebola, smallpox, anthrax and plague, and poison ricin, the New York Times reported. Fox News, "Military lab, which handles Ebola and other dangerous pathogens, suspended after failing CDC inspection," 7 Aug. 2019 Its signature success was in combating smallpox, which was declared eradicated in 1979 — a historical feat as the first disease eliminated by human effort. Ved Nanda, The Denver Post, "Nanda: WHO, Rotary Clubs have made the world a healthier place," 27 June 2019 Every ship heading upriver to the city was required to stop for inspection, and any passenger showing signs of yellow fever, smallpox, cholera or typhus was ferried over to the Lazaretto to recover — or die. Inga Saffron, https://www.inquirer.com, "This building on the Delaware River saved immigrant lives for 95 years. Now it’s been rescued by Tinicum Twp. | Inga Saffron," 4 June 2019 In contrast, polio and smallpox historically spread to about 5 to 7 people each, which puts them in the same range as the modern-day HIV virus and pertussis (the bacterium that causes whooping cough). Quanta Magazine, "The Unforgiving Math That Stops Epidemics," 26 Oct. 2017 While delta 32 grants H.I.V. immunity and may protect against smallpox, previous research suggests the genetic variant makes people more vulnerable to other illnesses, including the flu and West Nile virus. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "China’s ‘CRISPR Babies’ May Be More Likely to Die Young," 5 June 2019 These agents of cellular mayhem have been the cause of history-altering outbreaks and pandemics, from smallpox and polio to HIV and Ebola, but were only discovered at the turn of the 20th century. Anna Groves, Discover Magazine, "Viruses: What They are, How They Spread, and How We Fight Them," 30 June 2019 Some ancient human scourges have proven amenable to extinction—for example, smallpox, polio, and guinea worm—and the hope would be that new threats would prove, after analysis, to be equally amenable. George Church, Ars Technica, "We should create a global DNA threat-detection network to fight future pathogens," 19 June 2019 David Mulford, a Revolutionary War colonel who died of smallpox in 1778. Fox News, "Rare 1776 printing of the Declaration of Independence on display for the first time in over a century," 25 June 2019

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

circa 1562, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for smallpox

Last Updated

13 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for smallpox

The first known use of smallpox was circa 1562

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More Definitions for smallpox

smallpox

noun

English Language Learners Definition of smallpox

: a serious disease that causes fever and a rash and often death

smallpox

noun
small·​pox | \ ˈsmȯl-ˌpäks How to pronounce smallpox (audio) \

Kids Definition of smallpox

: a sometimes deadly disease in which fever and skin rash occur and which is believed to have been wiped out worldwide by vaccination

smallpox

noun
small·​pox | \ ˈsmȯl-ˌpäks How to pronounce smallpox (audio) \

Medical Definition of smallpox

: an acute contagious febrile disease of humans that is caused by a poxvirus of the genus Orthopoxvirus (species Variola virus), is characterized by skin eruption with pustules, sloughing, and scar formation, and is believed to have been eradicated globally by widespread vaccination

called also variola

— see variola major, variola minor

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More from Merriam-Webster on smallpox

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with smallpox

Spanish Central: Translation of smallpox

Nglish: Translation of smallpox for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smallpox for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about smallpox

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