vir·​u·​lent | \ˈvir-ə-lənt, 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

And yet despite a virulent insurgency since the mid-1960s, power continues to transfer peacefully in that nation. James Stavridis, Time, "Democracy Isn't Perfect, But It Will Still Prevail," 12 July 2018 Yemen’s political and social chaos has fueled the growth of a virulent al-Qaeda affiliate that U.S. officials say has eclipsed its parent organization as a terrorist threat to the United States. Alan Sipress, Washington Post, "Five reasons the crisis in Yemen matters," 8 June 2018 What the team represents—and what at times has continued to earn it virulent racist attacks—is a forcible truth about what France actually is. Laurent Dubois, The Atlantic, "France’s Ghosts Return for the World Cup," 14 July 2018 Samuel was unable to hold me in place, and my virulent objection to him touching me at all caused the public relations staff to intervene. Marcus Hayes,, "Since I was asked: LeSean McCoy handled his issues with me aggressively | Marcus Hayes," 11 July 2018 One exception is the proviso, codified in international law, to avoid potentially harmful interplanetary exchanges of biological material that could spark virulent epidemics on Earth or wipe out fragile alien biospheres. Leonard David, Scientific American, "As Space Becomes a Busy Place, NASA Bolsters Its Planet-Contamination Police," 3 July 2018 White resistance to the movement’s nonviolent protests was virulent, and King was struck in the head with a rock during one such march. Time Staff, Time, "The 25 Moments From American History That Matter Right Now," 28 June 2018 My personal favorite change is to the Graviton Lance, which now operates better at range and spawns virulent, heat-seeking dark-energy explosions with every kill. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "Destiny 2: Warmind review: Everything old is new(ish) again," 16 May 2018 Just as black women tried to warn white America during the 2016 elections, Waters is warning us not to waste our time seeking common ground with a virulent racist or the bigots who choose to work for him. Terrell Jermaine Starr, The Root, "Trump and Friends Come for Maxine Waters, a Black Woman Who Doesn’t Give a Damn About Your Calls for Civility," 25 June 2018

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

7 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for virulent

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 \

Kids Definition of virulent

: spreading quickly and causing serious harm a virulent disease


vir·​u·​lent | \-lənt \

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

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by force of circumstances

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