tox·​i·​col·​o·​gy | \ˌtäk-si-ˈkä-lə-jē \

Definition of toxicology 

: a science that deals with poisons and their effect and with the problems involved (such as clinical, industrial, or legal problems)

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Other Words from toxicology

toxicologist \ˌtäk-​si-​ˈkä-​lə-​jist \ noun

Did You Know?

Even though most of us are aware of toxicology primarily from crime shows on TV, toxicologists actually do most of their work in other fields. Many are employed by drug companies, others by chemical companies. Many work for the government, making sure the public is being kept safe from environmental poisons in the water, soil, and air, as well as unhealthy substances in our food and drugs. These issues often have to do with quantity; questions about how much of some substance should be considered dangerous, whether in the air or in a soft drink, may be left to toxicologists. But occasionally a toxicology task may be more exciting: for instance, discovering that what looked like an ordinary heart attack was actually brought on by a hypodermic injection of a paralyzing muscle relaxant.

Examples of toxicology in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Over that period, 188 people were killed by law enforcement and toxicology tests were performed in 173 of those cases. Alexis Stevens, The Seattle Times, "Georgia tallies meth’s toll: Nearly 20 percent of those killed by police in state test positive for it," 20 Nov. 2018 And the toxicology records did not indicate what role the drugs played in the encounters. Alexis Stevens, ajc, "EXCLUSIVE: Majority of those killed by Georgia officers tested positive for drugs," 9 July 2018 Per Sports Illustrated, the Whitman County medical examiner’s toxicology examination found no traces of alcohol or drugs in Tyler’s blood. Stefanie Loh, The Seattle Times, "WSU quarterback Tyler Hilinski had signs of CTE at suicide, family says," 26 June 2018 Previous toxicology work in mammals indicated that a specific class of insecticides, the neonicotinoids, could influence the activity of genes involved in the innate immune system. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Glyphosate is safe, but some scientists still question how we regulate it," 5 June 2018 State Auditor Suzanne Bump released a report in August faulting the office for regularly failing to process toxicology examinations or to complete autopsy reports on time between 2013 and 2016. Matt Stout,, "Director in medical examiner’s office appears to have fabricated credentials," 30 May 2018 The drug has not been approved in the United States, said Edwin Smith, a forensic toxicology consultant based in Fair Oaks who used to work for the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office. Ryan Sabalow, sacbee, "Why the drugs in Stephon Clark's system probably won't matter much to the investigation | The Sacramento Bee," 22 May 2018 The autopsy also says Clark was legally drunk and had traces of marijuana, cocaine and codeine in his system when was shot, but the report said the toxicology findings are not directly relevant to the fatal shooting. Washington Post, "Autopsy by coroner sheds light on Sacramento police killing," 3 May 2018 But of the cases that were able to undergo a toxicology test, victims tested positive for only fentanyl. Aubrey Whelan,, "West Philadelphia nervously watches as fentanyl kills the unsuspecting," 5 July 2018

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

circa 1799, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

24 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for toxicology

The first known use of toxicology was circa 1799

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English Language Learners Definition of toxicology

: the study of poisonous chemicals, drugs, etc., and how a person or other living thing reacts to them


tox·​i·​col·​o·​gy | \-ˈkäl-ə-jē \
plural toxicologies

Medical Definition of toxicology 

: the scientific study of the adverse effects of chemical substances on the living organism

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with toxicology

Nglish: Translation of toxicology for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about toxicology

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a nest or breeding place

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