virulence

noun
vir·​u·​lence | \ ˈvir-ə-lən(t)s How to pronounce virulence (audio) , ˈvir-yə- How to pronounce virulence (audio) \

Definition of virulence

: the quality or state of being virulent: such as
a : extreme bitterness or malevolence : rancor the virulence of their hatred She said the rising virulence of the rhetoric against Muslims has flooded her with sadness, grief, alienation and fear.— Laura DaSilva But the virulence of the campaign, on both sides … provides a clue to the deeper forces at work: the polarizing of politics in a traditionally moderate place.The Economist
b : the relative capacity of a pathogen (such as a bacterium or virus) to overcome a host's defenses and cause disease or damage : the degree of pathogenicity of a causative agent of disease a bacterial strain of low virulence the virulence of a novel virus also : the ability to overcome a host's defenses and cause disease or damage : the state of being pathogenic With its newly acquired virulence, this otherwise mild-mannered avian influenza virus went wild. — Rick Weiss
c : relative severity or malignancy Breast cancer is as diverse as the breast itself, appearing in many different guises. Some cancers seem to erupt out of ordinary breast issue with an awesome virulence, spreading rapidly throughout the body.— David Plotkin

Examples of virulence in a Sentence

I was surprised by the virulence of the criticism.
Recent Examples on the Web These impact viral characteristics including replication efficiency, pathogenesis, and virulence. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 6 July 2022 The scale and virulence of that scheme began to take shape at the opening House hearing investigating 1/6. Eric Tucker, BostonGlobe.com, 10 June 2022 The speed and unchecked virulence of the attacks show another way that social media can serve as an accelerant to sowing discord. Amanda Seitz, Anchorage Daily News, 20 May 2022 Strongly held French feelings about the equality of men and women, about secularism, and about its supposedly colorblind society lie behind the virulence of the discussion of these issues. New York Times, 17 Apr. 2022 This recombinant virus expresses several new genes, in addition to M159, that may have enhanced the virulence of rabbitpox in hares. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 6 June 2022 Eve events amid unresolved questions about the transmissibility and virulence of the new variant. New York Times, 8 Dec. 2021 The virulence of any pathogen depends not just on its own qualities but on the preparedness of the human immune system. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 25 Mar. 2022 But greater virulence does not necessarily mean stealth Omicron is more dangerous that Omicron. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 24 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'virulence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of virulence

1597, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for virulence

borrowed from French & Latin; borrowed from French, going back to Middle French, borrowed from Late Latin vīrulentia "poisonous odor, infection," from Latin vīrulentus "full of poison, venomous" + -ia -ia entry 1 — more at virulent

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The first known use of virulence was in 1597

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Dictionary Entries Near virulence

virucidal

virulence

virulency

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Cite this Entry

“Virulence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/virulence. Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for virulence

virulence

noun
vir·​u·​lence | \ ˈvir-(y)ə-lən(t)s How to pronounce virulence (audio) \

Medical Definition of virulence

: the quality or state of being virulent: as
a : the relative capacity of a pathogen (as a bacterium or virus) to overcome a host's defenses and cause disease or damage : the degree of pathogenicity of a causative agent of disease a bacterial strain of low virulence attempted to determine the virulence of the newly identified virus also : the ability to overcome a host's defenses and cause disease or damage : the state of being pathogenic With its newly acquired virulence, this otherwise mild-mannered avian influenza virus went wild. — Rick Weiss
b : relative severity or malignancy ameliorate the virulence of a disease

More from Merriam-Webster on virulence

Nglish: Translation of virulence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of virulence for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about virulence

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