bot·​u·​lism | \ ˈbä-chə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce botulism (audio) \

Definition of botulism

: acute food poisoning that is caused by botulinum toxin produced in food by a bacterial clostridium (Clostridium botulinum) and is characterized by muscle weakness and paralysis, disturbances of vision, swallowing, and speech, and a high mortality rate

Examples of botulism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Last year, more than 60,000 birds died of botulism in one of the worst outbreaks in years. Washington Post, 22 Nov. 2021 Botulinum toxin is a poison that by some macabre coincidence both causes botulism and cures wrinkles. New York Times, 15 Nov. 2021 Primarily made with a toxin derived from the same microbe that leads to botulism (a severe form of food poisoning), Botox has become known for its ability to practically erase facial wrinkles. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, 6 Sep. 2021 The foreign organisms are implicated in botulism outbreaks that have suffocated tens of thousands of birds on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Dan Egan,, 2 Sep. 2021 MassWildlife officials believe the deaths are likely caused by avian botulism, a common illness among waterfowl, the City of Lowell said in a series of tweets., 3 Aug. 2021 Another concern is the potential, albeit small, risk of botulism for those who try the trend with raw honey. NBC News, 2 Aug. 2021 Hot, stagnant water causes outbreaks of avian botulism, a bacterial disease that infects the nerves and muscles of ducks, geese and other waterfowl, slowly killing them. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 July 2021 Environmentalists and farmers are using pumps to combine water from two stagnant wetlands into one deeper to prevent another outbreak of avian botulism like the one that killed 50,000 ducks last summer. CBS News, 2 July 2021

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

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First Known Use of botulism

1896, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for botulism

Time Traveler

The first known use of botulism was in 1896

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Dictionary Entries Near botulism

botulinum toxin


botulismus toxin

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Statistics for botulism

Last Updated

4 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Botulism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for botulism



English Language Learners Definition of botulism

: a serious illness that is caused by eating food that has not been preserved correctly and that is filled with bacteria


bot·​u·​lism | \ ˈbäch-ə-ˌliz-əm How to pronounce botulism (audio) \

Medical Definition of botulism

: acute food poisoning caused by botulinum toxin produced in food by a bacterium of the genus Clostridium (C. botulinum) and characterized by muscle weakness and paralysis, disturbances of vision, swallowing, and speech, and a high mortality rate — see botulinum toxin, limberneck

More from Merriam-Webster on botulism

Nglish: Translation of botulism for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about botulism


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