from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An acute, highly infectious, often fatal disease caused by a poxvirus and characterized by high fever and aches with subsequent widespread eruption of pimples that blister, produce pus, and form pockmarks. Smallpox was eradicated worldwide by 1979 as a result of numerous vaccination campaigns and exists only as a laboratory specimen.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An acute, highly contagious disease, fatal in between one third and one fourth of unvaccinated cases.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Med.) A contagious, constitutional, febrile disease characterized by a peculiar eruption; variola. The cutaneous eruption is at first a collection of papules which become vesicles (first flat, subsequently umbilicated) and then pustules, and finally thick crusts which slough after a certain time, often leaving a pit, or scar.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun pathology An acute, highly infectious often fatal disease caused by a virus of the family Poxviridae. It was completely eradicated in the 1970s. Those who survived were left with pockmarks.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a highly contagious viral disease characterized by fever and weakness and skin eruption with pustules that form scabs that slough off leaving scars


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Early Modern English small pockes, small pustules (as opposed to great pockes, the great pox or syphilis), from pockes, pl. of pock; see pock.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From small +‎ pox.



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  • "DECEMBER 9, 1772.

    BERKLEY plantation is now clear of the SMALLPOX, and the Publick may be assured there is no Danger of any Infection remaining, as every necessary Care has been taken to cleanse the People and Houses.


    Virginia Gazette, Dec. 10, 1772 (Yes, this is the ancestor of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president)

    See also tar-water and cordial.

    January 27, 2009

  • Usage/historical note can be found on inoculation.

    December 3, 2016