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 common viruses are showing up at a distinctly uncommon time of year - and sometimes with uncommon virulence among children whose immune systems did not begin building up familiarity with them while the pandemic kept people isolated at home. Author: Amy Goldstein, Fenit Nirappil, Anchorage Daily News, 17 June 2021 The recall efforts were fueled in large part by the festering animosity California’s conservative minority holds against Newsom and his progressive agenda, a virulence highly concentrated among supporters of Trump. Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times, 26 Apr. 2021 There is no data on the variant’s virulence, and while India has seen a spike in deaths from Covid-19 it has been accompanied by a similarly large spike in new cases. Siladitya Ray, Forbes, 20 Apr. 2021 For this, lab models are needed to mimic spread and virulence mechanisms efficiently. Prafulla Shriyan, Quartz, 6 Apr. 2021 Outdated public health systems and resources are no match for the virulence and lethal speed of viruses in an increasingly interconnected world. Pamela Hymel, Fortune, 27 Mar. 2021 The number of people who get the flu shot, for example, doesn’t change much from year to year, even as flu strains vary in their virulence. Daniel Engber, The Atlantic, 22 Mar. 2021 Further mutations to the nucleocapsid protein and open reading frame eight likely increase the virus’s virulence, as similar mutations have been seen in other variants. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 18 Mar. 2021 For instance, a strain that spreads more easily often loses some of its virulence. Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times, 24 Feb. 2021

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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Learn More About virulence

Time Traveler for virulence

Time Traveler

The first known use of virulence was in 1597

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Statistics for virulence

Last Updated

22 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Virulence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/virulence. Accessed 24 Jul. 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

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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