toxicity

noun
tox·​ic·​i·​ty | \ täk-ˈsi-sə-tē How to pronounce toxicity (audio) \
plural toxicities

Definition of toxicity

: the quality or state of being toxic: such as
a : the quality, state, or relative degree of being poisonous measuring the toxicity level of the soil The toxicity of some chemical agents degrades significantly over time, so it is unclear how lethal the stockpiles are.— David S. Cloud Administering a cocktail of drugs would dilute the toxicities of the different drugs and minimize the development of viral resistance to them.— Rudy M. Baum and Ron Dagani
b : an extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful quality In the past few days, I've tuned in to C-SPAN to watch a number of the televised Senate debates, which illustrate all too vividly the toxicity of an uncivil tongue.— Connie Schultz In much of the ensuing commentary, court watchers worried that the justices' soaring rates of written dissents, nasty and personal attacks and scathing remarks read aloud from the bench bespeak a new toxicity in Supreme Court discourse.— Dahlia Lithwick

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Toxicity is often a relative thing; in the words of a famous old saying, "The dose makes the poison". Thus, it's possible to die from drinking too much water, and lives have been saved by tiny doses of arsenic. Even though botulinum toxin is the most toxic substance known, it's the basic ingredient in Botox, which is injected into the face to get rid of wrinkles. With some poisons, mere skin contact can be lethal; others are lethal when breathed into the lungs in microscopic amounts. To determine if a chemical will be officially called a poison, researchers often use the "LD50" test: If 50 milligrams of the substance for every kilogram of an animal's body weight results in the death of 50% of test animals, the chemical is a poison. But there are problems with such tests, and toxicity remains a very individual concept.

Examples of toxicity in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Anyone who has ventured into online gaming knows text chat can approach nuclear-waste-levels of toxicity. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Intel hopes to clean up toxic speech in game chat with AI and machine learning," 20 Mar. 2019 Of course, there are different levels of plant toxicity. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "These Are The Most Pet-Friendly Plants For Your Home," 6 Mar. 2019 New synthetic building materials burn hotter and with higher toxicity than wood and brick. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "The Tank That's Tougher Than Wildfire," 13 Nov. 2018 Mid90s is really an immersive look at male adolescence and all its conflicting joys and toxicities. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Jonah Hill Makes Directing Look Easy," 30 Oct. 2018 Essentially, scientists first run toxicity and safety tests in animals and then -- if the experimental results pass muster with the FDA -- move on to human trials. Susan Scutti, CNN, "FDA investigating unauthorized herpes vaccine research, report says," 23 Apr. 2018 The latest evidence of McConnell's toxicity among Republican voters came in a West Virginia Senate debate this week. Eric Bradner, CNN, "Mitch McConnell is becoming the GOP's Nancy Pelosi in midterm races," 3 May 2018 By all measures, glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, according to the EPA, has low toxicity for humans. Yvette D'entremont, SELF, "Should You Worry About Herbicides In Your Food?," 10 Oct. 2018 However, given mercury's toxicity—and, again, the lack of proper technology—the government has stopped excavation work in the area. Hanya Yanagihara, Condé Nast Traveler, "50 Things to Do in Asia Before You Die," 24 Sep. 2018

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

1879, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about toxicity

Statistics for toxicity

Last Updated

12 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for toxicity

The first known use of toxicity was in 1879

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for toxicity

toxicity

noun

English Language Learners Definition of toxicity

technical : the state of being poisonous or the degree to which something (such as a drug) is poisonous

toxicity

noun
tox·​ic·​i·​ty | \ täk-ˈsis-ət-ē How to pronounce toxicity (audio) \
plural toxicities

Medical Definition of toxicity

: the quality, state, or relative degree of being toxic or poisonous

More from Merriam-Webster on toxicity

Spanish Central: Translation of toxicity

Nglish: Translation of toxicity for Spanish Speakers

Comments on toxicity

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

WORD OF THE DAY

marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!