car·​ci·​no·​gen·​ic ˌkär-sə-nō-ˈje-nik How to pronounce carcinogenic (audio)
: producing or tending to produce cancer
a carcinogenic substance/compound/chemical
a chemical that has been found to have carcinogenic effects
Removing the carcinogenic mineral—used for years as a pipe and tank insulator—is a highly regulated process …Jefferson Kolle
carcinogenically adverb
The plant derivatives … are less carcinogenically active than those from the fossil fuels. Peter Bernfeld
carcinogenicity noun
The scientist, Dr. Bruce Ames, of the University of California at Berkeley, was the developer of the most widely used rapid laboratory test … for detecting the probable carcinogenicity of chemicals. Philip M. Boffey

Did you know?

It sometimes seems as if the list of carcinogenic substances gets longer every day. A substance such as a food additive that's been in common use for years may unexpectedly show signs of being carcinogenic in laboratory experiments. When that happens, the suspected carcinogen will often have to be withdrawn from the market. When a building material like asbestos turns out to be a carcinogen, it may also have to be physically removed from buildings. English has hundreds of other scientific words ending in -genic (such as allergenic), and in almost all of them the ending means "causing".

Examples of carcinogenic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some pigments, including potentially carcinogenic ones, may be unknown to tattoo artists. Laura Daniella Sepulveda, The Arizona Republic, 13 May 2024 The frying oil fumes contains aromatic carcinogenic components causing contributing to mortality and morbidity of customers and kitchen personnel. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 9 May 2024 The state of California replaced its open flame test for upholstered furniture with a similarly effective smolder test that can be met without the use of carcinogenic chemicals. Logan Carter / Jalopnik, Quartz, 8 May 2024 Additionally, most cars also had two more flame retardants considered carcinogenic: TDCIPP and TCEP. Vanessa Etienne, Peoplemag, 7 May 2024 As my colleague Amanda Mull wrote when aspartame was deemed carcinogenic over the summer, there’s always something. Yasmin Tayag, The Atlantic, 26 Apr. 2024 California set a nation-leading limit for the toxic heavy metal carcinogenic chromium-6 in drinking water. Kevinisha Walker, Los Angeles Times, 19 Apr. 2024 At the time of the recall, both Philips and the FDA described potential health risks including respiratory tract illnesses, headaches, nausea, and toxic and carcinogenic effects. Michael Korsh, ProPublica, 9 Apr. 2024 Burning vinyl chloride can create dioxins, which are carcinogenic, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mark Osborne, ABC News, 9 Apr. 2024

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

Word History

First Known Use

1916, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of carcinogenic was in 1916

Dictionary Entries Near carcinogenic

Cite this Entry

“Carcinogenic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


car·​ci·​no·​gen·​ic ˌkärs-ᵊn-ō-ˈjen-ik How to pronounce carcinogenic (audio)
: producing or tending to produce cancer
the carcinogenic action of certain chemicalsThe Journal of the American Medical Association
carcinogenically adverb
carcinogenicity noun
plural carcinogenicities

More from Merriam-Webster on carcinogenic

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