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

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

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

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 In Florida, the culprit is a specific dinoflagellate known as Karenia brevis, or K. brevis, which produces 12 neurotoxins that can kill marine animals including fish, turtles, sea birds, manatees, and dolphins. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "What Are Red Tides and Why Are They Getting Worse?," 14 Aug. 2018 Liquid hydrazine, a popular fuel for rockets of all varieties, can be quickly absorbed through the skin and acts as a neurotoxin. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Plasma Thrusters Are About To Have Their Moment," 30 Aug. 2018 Wasp stings are also more painful than bee stings and contain the neurotoxin Acetylcholine. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Fighter Pilot Gets Unpleasant, Stinging Surprise When Wasp Invades Cockpit," 3 Jan. 2017 This invention could help first responders identify potential neurotoxins faster and make treatment quicker and more effective. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Build Neurotoxin Detector From a Smartphone and Legos," 28 June 2018 How long does it last?: Unlike fillers and neurotoxins, which offer semi-permanent results. Micaela English, Town & Country, "T&C's Guide To Injectables: Which Ones To Consider, Cost, And How Long They Last," 17 Feb. 2016 Lead is a neurotoxin that damages the brain and nervous system, potentially delaying cognitive development and causing behavioral problems. Ahmed Elbenni, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Mayor Tom Barrett has nominated a new Health Department commissioner. Here are the problems facing the agency," 12 July 2018 In 2016, state records show, the plant emitted more than 400 pounds of lead, a neurotoxin, 22 pounds of arsenic, a carcinogen, and 213 pounds of chromium. Rob Davis,, "Why Oregon's new clean air law may not clean the air," 17 Mar. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about neurotoxin

Statistics for neurotoxin

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for neurotoxin

The first known use of neurotoxin was in 1902

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on neurotoxin

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


an enemy or opponent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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!