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

In the '80s, TSS made headlines when a bunch of young women using a specific type of hyper-absorbent tampons (which, by the way, are no longer on the market) developed bacterial infections which produced toxins inside their bodies. Elizabeth Kiefer, Teen Vogue, "What Is A Period? 10 Things To Know About Your Menstrual Cycle," 6 Sep. 2018 Algal blooms can affect drinking water taste, odor and coloration, and even produce toxins that are difficult to remove with conventional water treatment. Emily Hopkins, Indianapolis Star, "In Hendricks County, Ronald Reagan Parkway extension pits science against growth," 9 July 2018 If the water in the reef gets too warm, the zooxanthellae’s metabolism goes into overdrive and starts producing toxins. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Hawaii is banning sunscreens that kill coral reefs," 2 July 2018 Pests who eat the non-Bt crops in these refuges have no reason to evolve resistance to the toxin. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Planting GMOs kills so many bugs that it helps non-GMO crops," 15 Mar. 2018 Botox is similar to the toxin at work in a tetanus infection. Fabian Schmidt, USA TODAY, "Ex-Russian spy attacked with unknown nerve agent. Here are the top 5 deadly poisons," 9 Mar. 2018 As Queneua writes, this suggests that toads that live in the same ecosystem may have developed some resistance to the toxin. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "How Exploding Beetles Can Survive Being Eaten Alive," 21 Feb. 2018 The particular Shiga toxin-producing strain of E. coli (STEC) in this case is related to a 2017 outbreak in the U.S. that affected leafy greens, but not the other romaine lettuce outbreak earlier this year that killed five people, the CDC says. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Romaine Lettuce Is Not Safe to Eat, CDC Warns After E. Coli Outbreak," 20 Nov. 2018 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

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

17 Apr 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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