toxin

noun
tox·in | \ ˈtäk-sən \

Definition of toxin 

: a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody formation

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for toxin

Synonyms

bane, poison, venom

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

toxins Are Often Found in Nature

Long before chemists started creating poisons from scratch, humans were employing natural toxins for killing weeds and insects. For centuries South American tribes have used the toxin curare, extracted from a native vine, to tip their arrows. The garden flower called wolfsbane or monkshood is the source of aconite, an extremely potent toxin. The common flower known as jimsonweed contains the deadly poison scopolamine. And the castor-oil plant yields the almost unbelievably poisonous toxin called ricin. Today we hear health advisers of all kinds talk about ridding the body of toxins; but they're usually pretty vague about which ones they mean, and most of these "toxins" wouldn't be called that by biologists.

Examples of toxin in a Sentence

the toxin in scorpion venom read a pamphlet on the toxin responsible for botulism, a food poisoning that can cause paralysis and even death in some cases

Recent Examples on the Web

But some snakes, rodents, and even hedgehogs can eat the toads and come out unscathed, thanks to genetic mutations that render the toxin harmless. Katie Langin, Science | AAAS, "Toxic toads could devastate Madagascar’s biodiversity," 4 June 2018 The Banking Committee is considering a bill that would create a task force to study better ways to finance the removal of the toxin from thousands of homes around the state. courant.com, "As Lead In Children Persists, State Lawmakers Look To Tackle Risks," 15 Mar. 2018 Just take a seat on the patio and start shedding those toxins. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "8 reasons to love the Phoenix heat in summer," 14 July 2018 Formulated with yellow dock and burdock botanical extracts that support the body’s ability to release and flush out toxins, these twice-a-day pills may help decrease inflammation and in turn reduce spots and bacteria on the skin. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "6 Ways to Get Rid of Acne for Good This Summer," 8 July 2018 Some jellyfish, like the deadly box jellyfish, use toxins that punch holes in skin, blood, and nerve cells alike. National Geographic, "What's Giving Some Beachgoers Rashes? Get the Facts.," 28 June 2018 For a sense of just how sophisticated and varied venom is, consider that all 300 of the world’s venomous snake species have been fine-tuning their toxins for millennia. Kyle Dickman, Outside Online, "A Rattle with Death in Yosemite," 20 June 2018 Sleep is required to clear toxins out of the brain. Jeff Stibel, USA TODAY, "How to use your brain to live a long life," 12 June 2018 These toxins caused farm worker women to lose their fetuses or give birth to deformed children. Richard J. Gonzales, star-telegram, "Fort Worth’s Chicana Queen devoted her life to social justice," 12 June 2018

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

1886, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for toxin

International Scientific Vocabulary

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about toxin

Phrases Related to toxin

environmental toxin

Statistics for toxin

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for toxin

The first known use of toxin was in 1886

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for toxin

toxin

noun

English Language Learners Definition of toxin

: a poisonous substance and especially one that is produced by a living thing

toxin

noun
tox·in | \ ˈtäk-sən \

Kids Definition of toxin

: a poison produced by a living thing (as an animal or bacterium)

toxin

noun
tox·in | \ ˈtäk-sən \

Medical Definition of toxin 

: a colloidal proteinaceous poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody formation

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on toxin

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

WORD OF THE DAY

the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!