neu·​ro·​tox·​in | \ ˌnu̇r-ō-ˈtäk-sən How to pronounce neurotoxin (audio) , ˌnyu̇r-\

Definition of neurotoxin

: a poisonous substance (such as tetrodotoxin or saxitoxin) that acts on the nervous system and disrupts the normal function of nerve cells

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The nervous system is almost all-powerful in the body: all five senses depend on it, as do breathing, digestion, and the heart. So it's an obvious target for poisons, and neurotoxins have developed as weapons in many animals, including snakes, bees, and spiders. Some wasps use a neurotoxin to paralyze their prey so that it can be stored alive to be eaten later. Snake venom is often neurotoxic (as in cobras and coral snakes, for example), though it may instead be hemotoxic (as in rattlesnakes and coppermouths), operating on the circulatory system. Artificial neurotoxins, called nerve agents, have been developed by scientists as means of chemical warfare; luckily, few have ever been used.

Examples of neurotoxin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

And in Austin, Texas, in early August, three dogs died because of the same neurotoxins, their owners said, and the city closed the lake where the dogs had been swimming. Katie Mettler,, "Dogs’ owners warn of deadly toxic algae," 20 Aug. 2019 Tissue samples of Dungeness and rock crabs in 2015 showed contamination by domoic acid, a neurotoxin known to cause seizures, coma and even death when consumed by animals or humans. Peter Fimrite,, "‘Blob’ of warm Pacific water is back — could be trouble for marine life and weather," 10 Sep. 2019 Lead has long been recognized as a potent neurotoxin. Molly Enking, WIRED, "Flint, Newark, and the Persistent Crisis of Lead in Water," 28 Aug. 2019 To accumulate the deadly dose of 70 micrograms of botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) from cosmetic sources would re-quire purchasing more than 14,000 vials. The Editors, Scientific American, "Readers Respond to "Is Time an Illusion?" and Other Articles," 1 Oct. 2010 Scientists found low levels of a neurotoxin in the blue-green algae found near Rose Bud Lake that if ingested by animals could cause a number of side effects and symptoms, including excessive drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. Michelle Iracheta, Houston Chronicle, "Austin officials warn of blue-green algae in Lady Bird Lake that could kill dogs," 12 Aug. 2019 The neurotoxins produced by harmful algae blooms can cause massive fish kills, with dead fish washing up on shores by the thousands. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "Red tides, explained," 5 July 2019 Running or moving quickly will increase your heart rate, which will allow the neurotoxin in the venom to travel through your system faster. Tom Stienstra,, "Rattlesnake season is here. Be prepared.," 28 June 2019 The birds were all killed by a neurotoxin called Avitrol., "Portland bans use of bird poison on city property after crow deaths," 5 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'neurotoxin.' 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 neurotoxin

1902, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for neurotoxin

borrowed from French névrotoxine, from névro- neuro- + toxine toxin

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Statistics for neurotoxin

Last Updated

29 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for neurotoxin

The first known use of neurotoxin was in 1902

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More Definitions for neurotoxin


neu·​ro·​tox·​in | \ -ˈtäk-sən How to pronounce neurotoxin (audio) \

Medical Definition of neurotoxin

: a poisonous substance (such as tetrodotoxin or saxitoxin) that acts on the nervous system and disrupts the normal function of nerve cells

More from Merriam-Webster on neurotoxin

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with neurotoxin Encyclopedia article about neurotoxin

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