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, 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

This new approach is based on the premise that our modern lifestyles — along with environmental assaults from infectious pathogens and toxins — are as much to blame for Alzheimer’s as renegade genes or plaques. Linda Marsa, Discover Magazine, "A New Treatment for Alzheimer's? It Starts With Lifestyle," 16 Nov. 2018 There may be other causes, the agency says, such as other viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders. Erik Lacitis, The Seattle Times, "Mysterious paralyzing illness leaves Washington families reeling," 19 Oct. 2018 Most strains are harmless, but some could cause serious illnesses if toxins are produced. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "E. coli killed British couple found dead in Egypt hotel, officials say," 12 Sep. 2018 The city's water problems have been ongoing since 2014 when it was found that the water in the city's pipes was contaminated with high levels of lead and other toxins. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Watch Miss Michigan Boldly Call Out the Flint Water Crisis During the Miss America Pageant," 10 Sep. 2018 When the body has an infection, your immune system goes into overdrive and releases white blood cells to fight off a foreign invader (aka bacteria, viruses, and toxins). Amy Capetta, Redbook, "6 Signs of UTI That You'll Hopefully Never Experience," 6 Aug. 2018 Another good exercise is the butterflies: place your bum against the wall, bend your legs out, and let all the blood and toxins flow back down rather than keeping them in your ankles. Yolanda Edwards, Condé Nast Traveler, "Super Trainer Kayla Itsines on Staying in Shape at 35,000 Feet," 23 July 2018 Of those, only 19 contained toxin levels greater than 10 micrograms per liter, the level the World Health Organization considers a low-level risk. Maya Sweedler, WSJ, "Florida Fights Giant Algal Bloom in Lake Okeechobee," 16 July 2018 But the strain involved in this latest outbreak, E. coli O157:H7, produces dangerous toxins and can cause kidney failure. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "Romaine lettuce from California linked to E. coli outbreak," 27 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

9 Jan 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 \

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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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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