toxin

noun
tox·​in | \ ˈtäk-sən How to pronounce toxin (audio) \

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

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Synonyms for toxin

Synonyms

bane, poison, toxic, venom

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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

Their individual cells will have transporters that prevent toxins from being absorbed. Rob Dunn, Discover Magazine, "Our Attempts to Eradicate Insects are Just Making them Resistant to Pesticides," 16 Nov. 2018 Terry’s father, Leslie, died prematurely too — from leukemia, a disease also linked to exposure to pesticides and other toxins. Erin Quinn-kong, Woman's Day, "Are Your Fast-Fashion Clothes Killing Farmers?," 14 Feb. 2019 But foodborne illness due to harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, and chemicals is astoundingly common. Jenna Flannigan, SELF, "8 Surprising Food Safety Mistakes You Might Be Making," 11 Jan. 2019 These bad actors include chronic stress, a lack of exercise and restorative sleep, toxins from molds, and fat-laden fast foods. Linda Marsa, Discover Magazine, "A New Treatment for Alzheimer's? It Starts With Lifestyle," 16 Nov. 2018 Categorizing excess as toxins, Dr. Mysore says, is a misnomer. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Detox Diets Aren't Real or Healthy — and Body "Toxins" Don't Exist," 1 Jan. 2019 Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Korin Miller, SELF, "Del Monte Recalls Canned Corn Over Concerns It Could Cause ‘Life-Threatening Illness'," 14 Dec. 2018 In 2009, the International Gene Synthesis Consortium proposed guidelines for how gene synthesis companies should screen customers’ orders for potentially dangerous chunks of DNA, such as those found in harmful viruses or toxin genes. R. Daniel Bressler, Vox, "“Designer bugs”: how the next pandemic might come from a lab," 6 Dec. 2018 But in humans, Shiga toxin leads to bloody diarrhea and, in more serious cases, a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Trash your romaine lettuce and don’t eat any in restaurants, says the CDC," 21 Nov. 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.

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First Known Use of toxin

1886, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for toxin

International Scientific Vocabulary

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Statistics for toxin

Last Updated

20 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for toxin

The first known use of toxin was in 1886

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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 How to pronounce toxin (audio) \

Kids Definition of toxin

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

toxin

noun
tox·​in | \ ˈtäk-sən How to pronounce toxin (audio) \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on toxin

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with toxin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for toxin

Spanish Central: Translation of toxin

Nglish: Translation of toxin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of toxin for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about toxin

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