bot·​u·​li·​num ˌbä-chə-ˈlī-nəm How to pronounce botulinum (audio)
variants or less commonly botulinus
: a spore-forming bacterium (Clostridium botulinum) that secretes botulinum toxin
botulinal adjective

Examples of botulinum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The science builds on the existing body of research into whether the drug — which is made from a toxin that the bacterium Clostridium botulinum produces — can shift our moods. Molly Longman,, 16 Mar. 2022 The toxins are produced when Clostridium botulinum spores, widely dispersed in nature, encounter perfect conditions for germination: the absence of oxygen, a non-acidic pH, just the right amount of moisture and a warmish temperature (the optimum varies by subtype). Claire Panosian Dunavan, Discover Magazine, 11 Jan. 2018 Antitoxin hero Botulism treatment can involve mechanical ventilation in the case of respiratory failure, as well as doses of an antitoxin called heptavalent botulinum antitoxin (HBAT), which is made from horses. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 16 Mar. 2023 As a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, this bacterium can cause botulism, a type of life-threatening food poisoning. Allison Futterman, Discover Magazine, 16 Mar. 2022 Another risk comes from honey containing Clostridium botulinum spores, associated with paralytic disease. Veronique Greenwood, Discover Magazine, 30 Aug. 2013 The second microbe, Clostridium botulinum, has not been found in the products. Orlando Mayorquin, USA TODAY, 18 Aug. 2022 On top of that, Lyons also identified another bacteria in the drinks, Clostridium botulinum. Chris Smith, BGR, 11 Aug. 2022 Seven botulinum toxins, designated A through G, are currently known to block the release of acetylcholine, an essential neural junction transmitter. Claire Panosian Dunavan, Discover Magazine, 11 Jan. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'botulinum.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin, from Latin botulus sausage

First Known Use

1916, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of botulinum was in 1916

Dictionary Entries Near botulinum

Cite this Entry

“Botulinum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition


bot·​u·​li·​num ˌbäch-ə-ˈlī-nəm How to pronounce botulinum (audio)
variants also botulinus
: a spore-forming bacterium of the genus Clostridium (C. botulinum) that produces botulinum toxin
botulinal adjective
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