tol·​er·​ance | \ ˈtä-lə-rən(t)s How to pronounce tolerance (audio) , ˈtäl-rən(t)s \

Definition of tolerance

1 : capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina
2a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own
b : the act of allowing something : toleration
3 : the allowable deviation from a standard especially : the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece
4a(1) : the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (such as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure developed a tolerance to painkillers also : the immunological state marked by unresponsiveness to a specific antigen
(2) : relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor
b : the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that may lawfully remain on or in food

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Synonyms & Antonyms for tolerance



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Examples of tolerance in a Sentence

a tolerance for other lifestyles The plants have a high tolerance for heat. Some patients gradually develop a tolerance for the drug and need to be given a larger dose. Some patients develop greater tolerance for the drug's effects.
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Recent Examples on the Web One of the fears ecologists have is that with a fire of this intensity the seed banks that hold the key to regrowth may be destroyed, heated beyond their tolerance. National Geographic, "60 hours on burning Kangaroo Island," 17 Jan. 2020 Conventional triggers have no tolerance at all for oil. David E. Petzal, Field & Stream, "How to Weatherproof Your Rifle," 24 Dec. 2019 Employers can still do pre-employment and random drug tests on employees and maintain zero- tolerance policies for their employees. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "What you need to know as recreational marijuana sales begin in Michigan," 1 Dec. 2019 Their comparatively high salt tolerance and the large rains of recent years have allowed their populating more waters, and unauthorized stockings to new waters has also occurred. Bill May,, "Bill May: Searching for Potomac blue catfish," 24 Nov. 2019 Is there wiggle room in Davis’ no tolerance policy? Ann Killion,, "Trent Brown allegations test Raiders owner’s stand against domestic abuse," 16 Oct. 2019 The Angels maintain a strict, zero tolerance policy regarding the illicit use of drugs for both players and staff., "Most read on," 13 Oct. 2019 Whatever the numbers say, Coe’s shown enough that Britt, who has no tolerance for anything but hard play, also emphasized his improvement from the start of the season. Giana Han, al, "Despite stats, Gus Malzahn says Nick Coe’s improving," 30 Sep. 2019 The Duke and Duchess believe in a free, strong and open media industry, which upholds accuracy and fosters inclusivity, diversity and tolerance. Stephanie Petit,, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Are Changing Their Relationship with Media: Here's How," 8 Jan. 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for tolerance

Time Traveler

The first known use of tolerance was in the 15th century

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Statistics for tolerance

Last Updated

27 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tolerance.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 29 January 2020.

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More Definitions for tolerance


How to pronounce tolerance (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tolerance

: willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own
: the ability to accept, experience, or survive something harmful or unpleasant
medical : your body's ability to become adjusted to something (such as a drug) so that its effects are experienced less strongly


tol·​er·​ance | \ ˈtä-lə-rəns How to pronounce tolerance (audio) \

Kids Definition of tolerance

1 : ability to put up with something harmful, bad, or annoying He was running out of tolerance for the pushy young cop.— Carl Hiaasen, Hoot
2 : sympathy for or acceptance of feelings or habits which are different from someone's own


tol·​er·​ance | \ ˈtäl(-ə)-rən(t)s How to pronounce tolerance (audio) \

Medical Definition of tolerance

1 : the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure developed a tolerance to painkillers
2 : the immunological state marked by unresponsiveness to a specific antigen

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Comments on tolerance

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


to assert without proof or before proving

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