virulence

noun

vir·​u·​lence ˈvir-ə-lən(t)s How to pronounce virulence (audio) ˈvir-yə- How to pronounce virulence (audio)
: 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 Like a plague that long lay dormant, antisemitism has sprung back to virulence in the U.S., deeply unsettling American Jews, many of whom had viewed it as a relic of past generations, destined to fade away. David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, 14 Dec. 2023 Yet, the persistence of COVID-19 cases evidenced its virulence compared to the flu, according to the authors. Katie Liu, Discover Magazine, 16 Nov. 2023 Perhaps greed without virulence is less objectionable. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, 3 May 2023 Regulators are still studying the prevalence and virulence of rebound cases, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May warned doctors that it has been reported to occur within two days to eight days after initially testing negative for the virus. Dallas News, 6 Aug. 2022 Whether any of those will affect virulence is unclear. Marla Broadfoot, Scientific American, 17 Feb. 2022 There are few precedents in American history for someone with the public renown of Elon Musk voicing or hosting opinions of such unalloyed virulence. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 5 Sep. 2023 Likewise, the prevalence of genes that encode for certain types of virulence, such as mechanisms to suppress a host’s immune response, increased significantly, while those linked to other harmful activities decreased. Michael Allen, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 June 2023 Last month, the Bank of England, stung by the virulence of inflation, unexpectedly raised interest rates by half a percent, to 5 percent. Mark Landler, BostonGlobe.com, 19 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'virulence.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1597, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of virulence was in 1597

Dictionary Entries Near virulence

Cite this Entry

“Virulence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/virulence. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

virulence

noun
vir·​u·​lence ˈvir-(y)ə-lən(t)s How to pronounce virulence (audio)
: the quality or state of being virulent

Medical Definition

virulence

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

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