infectious disease, early 14c., plural of Middle English masel, perhaps from Middle Dutch masel "blemish" (in plural "measles") or Middle Low German masele, from Proto-Germanic *mas- "spot, blemish" (source also of Old High German masla "blood-blister," German Masern "measles").
There might have been an Old English cognate, but if so it has not been recorded. Form probably influenced by Middle English mesel "leprous" (late 13c.).
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