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 Once symptoms appear, rabies is nearly always fatal, according to the CDC. Christine Fernando, USA TODAY, 6 Jan. 2022 This includes clinical trials using mRNA vaccines against HIV, rabies, Zika, and influenza. Joshua Cohen, Forbes, 4 Jan. 2022 The man in Lake County suffered symptoms of rabies, including neck pain, difficulty controlling his arms, finger numbness and difficulty speaking, the state health department said. Phil Helsel, NBC News, 29 Sep. 2021 If the animals are dispatched, they will be tested for rabies, which might explain their hostile reactions to dogs and humans of late. Zachariah Hughes, Anchorage Daily News, 25 Sep. 2021 With vaccines in the news, this announcement seems like a timely reminder that pets need vaccines, like rabies, distemper and parvo, to protect them from life-threatening diseases, too. Cathy M. Rosenthal, San Antonio Express-News, 16 Sep. 2021 Adult cats and ferrets must receive a rabies shot every year. Iris Katz, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, 14 Nov. 2020 The press release notes that 14 bats have tested positive for rabies this year in Idaho. Adam Sabes, Fox News, 4 Nov. 2021 Councilwomen Bess Rich and Gina Gregory suggested the city consider aligning itself with local veterinarians to assist the city in obtaining licensing fees whenever a pet owner brings their animals with them for rabies shots. al, 6 July 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

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The first known use of rabies was circa 1598

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Rabies.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rabies. Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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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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