tol·er·ance | \ ˈtä-lə-rən(t)s , 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


forbearance, long-suffering, patience, sufferance



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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

The new instructions come as the administration is embroiled in a related controversy over its zero-tolerance border policy, which resulted in the separation of more than 3,000 children from undocumented parents or guardians crossing the border. Alan Gomez, USA TODAY, "Trump administration activates new asylum crackdown; potentially valid claims could be denied," 12 July 2018 The new form is specifically for parents who were separated from their children at the border under the zero-tolerance policy. WSJ, "Trump Administration Plans to Ask Court to Approve Choice for Migrant Parents," 11 July 2018 Under general manager Al Avila, the Tigers have a zero-tolerance policy, the Free Press reports. Michael Mcgough, sacbee, "MLB pitching coach fired for alleged racial slur has career roots in Sacramento," 29 June 2018 With the news that President Trump's zero-tolerance policy is resulting in the separation of migrant families at the border, many in Hollywood have spoken out to fight to keep kids and parents together. Omar Sanchez, The Hollywood Reporter, "Hollywood Stars Who Are Helping Migrant Families at the U.S.-Mexico Border," 26 June 2018 The zero-tolerance policy calls for the criminal prosecution of anyone caught crossing the border illegally. Colleen Long,, "Trump administration says 57 small children reunited with family, 46 deemed ineligible," 12 July 2018 Among the leading voices vehemently opposing the cruel zero-tolerance policy is film director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay. Michelle Darrisaw,, "Ava DuVernay Speaks Out Against Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy: ‘We Cannot Allow This’," 20 June 2018 Dropping the worst of their own anti-gay tendencies allows nationalists to project themselves as the true guardians of tolerance. The Economist, "Europe’s anti-immigrant parties are becoming more gay-friendly," 5 July 2018 By AP However, this executive order does not end the administration's zero-tolerance policy when dealing with adults who cross the border illegally. Brandon Rasmussen, idahostatesman, "Some Idahoans have had it with splitting immigrant families. Now, they're rallying.," 29 June 2018

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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Phrases Related to tolerance

zero tolerance

Statistics for tolerance

Last Updated

25 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for tolerance

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

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More Definitions for tolerance



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 \

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 \

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).


the setting in which something occurs

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