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

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Examples of virulence in a Sentence

I was surprised by the virulence of the criticism.
Recent Examples on the Web These mutations are commonplace in variants of concern and further enhance replication and virulence. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, "Identification Of A Novel Covid-19 Variant Cluster Isolated From Covid-19 Ill Infants In US Capital," 25 Feb. 2021 Limbaugh was confused by the Never Trump Republican virulence. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "We Have Lost an American Genius," 25 Feb. 2021 Ominously, the new study also suggested the California variant could have greater virulence. Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times, "California’s coronavirus strain looks increasingly dangerous: ‘The devil is already here’," 23 Feb. 2021 Yet the virulence of the pandemic, in which the virus exploits even the slightest missteps, has begun to overwhelm America’s richest and most populous state. New York Times, "Most of California Locks Down Again as Coronavirus Strains Hospitals," 7 Dec. 2020 This is known as the transmission-virulence trade-off. Wendy Orent, Smithsonian Magazine, "Will the Coronavirus Evolve to Be Less Deadly?," 16 Nov. 2020 The models predicting its virulence are based on previous transmission patterns, which could be related to other factors like population density or people’s social habits. Melody Schreiber, The New Republic, "If the U.S. Already Had a Covid Variant, We Wouldn’t Know," 22 Dec. 2020 Caring for seniors at facilities across the Iron Range, Goodwin has seen influenza spread through nursing homes and assisted living centers over the years, but never with the virulence of COVID-19. Christopher Snowbeck Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Deadly December includes COVID-19 hopes in Minnesota," 19 Dec. 2020 This is known as the transmission-virulence trade-off. Popular Science, "How the COVID-19 pandemic might end," 13 Nov. 2020

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.

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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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Time Traveler for virulence

Time Traveler

The first known use of virulence was in 1597

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Statistics for virulence

Last Updated

6 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Virulence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/virulence. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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

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