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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for toxin

Synonyms

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 After initially being held by doctors in Russia, he was released to Germany, where investigators determined he was poisoned with a Novichok-class nerve agent, a potent toxin produced in Russia since the time of the Soviet Union. Callie Patteson, Washington Examiner, "Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny arrested upon returning to Moscow," 17 Jan. 2021 Routine tests of the city’s water showed that it had been contaminated with microcystin—an algal toxin. Tim Folger, National Geographic, "North America’s most valuable resource is at risk," 17 Nov. 2020 As a lethal toxin, the discrete and deadly metalloid became the weapon of choice for those looking to quietly dispose of anyone standing in their way. Meg Neal, Popular Mechanics, "Nature's Toxic Gifts: The Deadly Story of Poison," 4 Oct. 2020 At least 28 dogs have died and another eight have become sick after eating dog food that contained high levels of a toxin called aflatoxin, the Food and Drug Administration said, as some pet foods were recalled Wednesday. Sara G. Miller, NBC News, "Certain pet foods recalled after reports of 28 dog deaths, FDA warns," 31 Dec. 2020 Hope is a toxin that poisons many families of the missing. New York Times, "She Stalked Her Daughter’s Killers Across Mexico, One by One," 6 Dec. 2020 The toxin, the researchers say, could also be hurting other struggling fish that move through San Francisco Bay, such as chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Kurtis Alexander, SFChronicle.com, "New research explains why salmon are dying in the Pacific Northwest. The danger lurks in California, too," 3 Dec. 2020 While the worms do not appear to secrete enough of the toxin through the skin to be considered dangerous, Murphy says to exercise caution, as tetrodotoxin is very dangerous. Allen Kim, CNN, "An invasive, snake-like hammerhead worm is popping up in Georgia," 23 Nov. 2020 The board reported toxin-producing blue-green algae blooms at Cedar, Nokomis and Brownie lakes. Rochelle Olson, Star Tribune, "Late-blooming problem as Minneapolis issues warning about algae toxins in lakes," 26 Nov. 2020

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

Time Traveler for toxin

Time Traveler

The first known use of toxin was in 1886

See more words from the same year

Statistics for toxin

Last Updated

23 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Toxin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/toxin. Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for toxin

toxin

noun
How to pronounce toxin (audio)

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

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

Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

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!