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

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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

Burberry’s new model is more sustainable in most ways—there are still debates about the toxicity of faux furs, typically made out of plastics that do not degrade. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Burberry’s Future is Fur-Free—And Much More Sustainable," 6 Sep. 2018 Toad venom toxicity is more common in dogs than cats, although felines do occasionally put themselves at risk by pouncing on toads. Maria Carter, Country Living, "Florida Veterinarians are Warning Pet Owners About This Deadly Toad," 8 Sep. 2015 Here was the toxicity of social media for all to see: a sunbaked scene of disaster tents, soaked mattresses, and millennials with roller bags looking wide-eyed and dehydrated. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Netflix’s Fyre Is a Story You Have to See to Believe," 15 Jan. 2019 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

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.

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First Known Use of toxicity

1879, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for toxicity

Last Updated

7 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for toxicity

The first known use of toxicity was in 1879

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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

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