vir·​u·​lent | \ ˈvir-ə-lənt How to pronounce virulent (audio) , ˈvir-yə-\

Definition of virulent

1a : marked by a rapid, severe, and destructive course a virulent infection
b : able to overcome bodily defensive mechanisms : markedly pathogenic virulent bacteria
2 : extremely poisonous or venomous
3 : full of malice : malignant virulent racists
4 : objectionably harsh or strong virulent criticism

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Other Words from virulent

virulently adverb

Examples of virulent in a Sentence

The country seemed to be returning to the virulent nationalism of its past. the virulent look on her face warned me that she was about to say something unkind

Recent Examples on the Web

Officials may monitor people who were in close contact with the child for signs of illness, especially if the strain involved was a particularly virulent one. Erin Allday,, "Death of 9-year-old Milpitas boy to common virus perplexes doctors," 14 July 2019 Soon enough, the foursome are in the back of that truck in an adventure that begins as a moneymaking scheme and promises to become a heroic journey into the heart of white supremacy at its most virulent and addle-minded. Ann Hornaday, Twin Cities, "‘Sword of Trust’ is a beguiling, smart — and surprisingly deep — comedy," 25 July 2019 In Africa, meanwhile, the vaccine itself is spawning virulent strains. Leslie Roberts, Science | AAAS, "Surging cases have dashed all hope that polio might be eradicated in 2019," 10 July 2019 That’s not the experience of Chuck Brown, the former SVCF fundraising leader who has now emerged as one of the most virulent critics of Big Philanthropy. Theodore Schleifer, Vox, "Today’s “working robber barons” have used a tax break to create a $110 billion charity stockpile, called donor-advised funds. It isn’t getting any smaller.," 2 July 2019 The Orange County Fair is enhancing its sanitation practices in livestock areas in light of the death of a young boy who possibly picked up a virulent strain of the E. coli bacteria from a petting zoo last month at the San Diego County Fair. Hillary Davis,, "O.C. Fair emphasizes hand-washing after child illnesses and death linked to animals at San Diego County Fair," 1 July 2019 But the virulent disease is back, with more than 1,000 cases confirmed nationwide this year through June 3 — the greatest number since 1992. Kaiser Health News,, "Measles outbreaks require meticulous detective work to halt the spread," 15 June 2019 Ebola is a virus that causes an especially deadly and virulent form of hemorrhagic fever. NBC News, "What is Ebola? What to know about symptoms, vaccine, outbreaks," 12 June 2019 Known as virulent Newcastle disease, the virus poses no food safety concerns and essentially no human health concerns. Jaclyn Cosgrove,, "To stop a virus, California has euthanized more than 1.2 million birds. Is it reckless or necessary?," 7 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'virulent.' 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 virulent

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for virulent

Middle English, from Latin virulentus, from virus poison

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Statistics for virulent

Last Updated

15 Aug 2019

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The first known use of virulent was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for virulent



English Language Learners Definition of virulent

: full of hate or anger
: extremely or excessively harsh or strong
: extremely dangerous and deadly and usually spreading very quickly


vir·​u·​lent | \ ˈvir-ə-lənt How to pronounce virulent (audio) \

Kids Definition of virulent

: spreading quickly and causing serious harm a virulent disease


vir·​u·​lent | \ -lənt How to pronounce virulent (audio) \

Medical Definition of virulent

1a : marked by a rapid, severe, and malignant course a virulent infection
b : able to overcome bodily defense mechanisms a virulent pathogen
2 : extremely poisonous or venomous : noxious

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More from Merriam-Webster on virulent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for virulent

Spanish Central: Translation of virulent

Nglish: Translation of virulent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of virulent for Arabic Speakers

Comments on virulent

What made you want to look up virulent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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