"German" measles

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Fri Nov 22 12:39:07 UTC 2002

Rubella seems to be dropping out of the langauge (at least outside
medical circles). On this morning's local news (Lansing), a young
woman who had a child and dropped out of high school was featured in
a story about dropouts. Her name was "Rubella." Luckily, she named
her child Maryanne.


Does anyone on the list know the origin (and reason) for the term "German"
measles, as the viral infection rubella was formerly known? The question's
come up in the CompuServe words section. One of my dictionaries says it
started in the mid-19th century but offers no explanation.

--Dodi Schultz

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic,
      Asian & African Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027
e-mail: preston at msu.edu
phone: (517) 353-9290

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