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

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Synonyms for toxin

Synonyms

bane, poison, 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

Phage display has produced antibodies that can neutralize toxins, counteract autoimmune diseases and cure metastatic cancer, the academy said. Joanna Sugden, WSJ, "Nobel Chemistry Prize Is Awarded to Three Evolutionary Scientists," 3 Oct. 2018 Doctors have theorized the poisoning could have come from a variety of substances, including high doses of some pharmaceuticals and plants that contain particular toxins. Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Fox News, "Pussy Riot member was in 'black hole' following possible poisoning," 25 Sep. 2018 And that plays into so many patriarchal myths about women being dirty, that menstruation has toxins. Eric Johnson, Recode, "The internet’s favorite Goop critic Dr. Jen Gunter says ‘medical conspiracy theories’ are running amok online," 20 Aug. 2018 Such Shiga-toxin producing E. coli are shed from the guts of animals (particularly cattle) and are spread by feces. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "The poop of 100K cows may be to blame for that deadly romaine E. coli outbreak," 8 Aug. 2018 Eating foods with this toxin can result in serious illness or even death if not treated quickly. Lindsey Murray, Good Housekeeping, "Taco Bell has just issued a warning for its popular salsa con queso.," 25 July 2018 Soy and coconut aminos include building blocks like tryptophan and arginine that are essential to the formation of muscles and that supposedly remove toxins from our bodies. Kyle Beechey, Bon Appetit, "The Mysterious Hippie Food Brand That's Never Let Me Down," 27 June 2018 Applying a tourniquet concentrate those toxins in one place. Shelia Poole, ajc, "7 most common myths about snakes," 5 June 2018 Yep, wouldn't want any of those nasty toxins to cramp this totally-chill bride's happily ever after. Sarah Schreiber, Good Housekeeping, "The 10 Worst Bridezilla Stories of All Time," 18 Aug. 2017

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

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Statistics for toxin

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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 \

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

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