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a name for several infectious diseases of animals, especially canine distemper, a highly fatal viral disease of dogs, marked by fever, loss of appetite, and a discharge from the nose and eyes.
1. Any of various infectious diseases of animals, especially:
a. canine distemper.
2. An illness or disease; an ailment: "He died ... of a broken heart, a distemper which kills many more than is generally imagined" (Henry Fielding).
3. Ill humor; testiness.
4. Disorder or disturbance, especially of a social or political nature.
tr.v. distem·pered, distem·pering, distem·pers
1. To put out of order.
2. Archaic To unsettle; derange.
The colloquial usage for canine distemper caused by an RNA virus of the genus Morbillivirus, a member of the family Paramyxoviridae.