bot·​u·​li·​num | \ ˌbä-chə-ˈlī-nəm How to pronounce botulinum (audio) \
variants: or less commonly botulinus \ ˌbä-​chə-​ˈlī-​nəs How to pronounce botulinus (audio) \

Definition of botulinum

: a spore-forming bacterium (Clostridium botulinum) that secretes botulinum toxin

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from botulinum

botulinal \ ˌbä-​chə-​ˈlī-​nᵊl How to pronounce botulinal (audio) \ adjective

Examples of botulinum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Pound for pound — or nanogram for nanogram, as is the case — the neurotoxin botulinum, produced by bacteria, is the deadliest substance known. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Poison," 25 Sep. 2018 The toxin that leads to botulism is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum or sometimes strains of Clostridium butyricum and Clostridium baratii, as SELF reported previously. Korin Miller, SELF, "Del Monte Recalls Canned Corn Over Concerns It Could Cause ‘Life-Threatening Illness'," 14 Dec. 2018 The Novichok nerve agents’ estimated LD50 may be as low as 4,000 ng/kg — deadlier than tetradotoxin, but nowhere close to botulinum’s lethality. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Poison," 25 Sep. 2018 As dangerous as botulinum is, precise medical applications in tiny doses — best known as Botox — can treat several conditions, including incontinence, strabismus (crossed eyes) and, of course, wrinkles. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Poison," 25 Sep. 2018 The potentially fatal form of food poisoning results from the growth of Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum), the United States Center for Disease Control states. Lindsey Murray, Good Housekeeping, "Taco Bell has just issued a warning for its popular salsa con queso.," 25 July 2018 On a recent steamy day in Atlanta, Dupree relaxed onto a table in the Emory Brain Center for a botulinum injection. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, "The radio man without a voice," 15 June 2018 All three have required intensive care treatment with an anti-toxin that counteracts the effects of a neurotoxin produced by clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes wound botulism. Paul Sisson,, "Wound botulism hospitalizes three black tar heroin users," 10 Apr. 2018 And about that botulism...? Some skeptics fear getting botulism from sous vide foods because the bacteria that causes the disease, C. botulinum, grows in low oxygen conditions. Elaheh Nozari, Bon Appetit, "Is It Safe to Cook With Plastic Bags? And Other Sous Vide Questions, Explained," 14 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'botulinum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of botulinum

1916, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for botulinum

New Latin, from Latin botulus sausage

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about botulinum

Statistics for botulinum

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for botulinum

The first known use of botulinum was in 1916

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for botulinum


bot·​u·​li·​num | \ ˌbäch-ə-ˈlī-nəm How to pronounce botulinum (audio) \
variants: also botulinus \ -​nəs How to pronounce botulinus (audio) \

Medical Definition of botulinum

: a spore-forming bacterium of the genus Clostridium (C. botulinum) that produces botulinum toxin

Other Words from botulinum

botulinal \ -​ˈlīn-​ᵊl How to pronounce botulinal (audio) \ adjective

Comments on botulinum

What made you want to look up botulinum? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!