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

Keep scrolling for more

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 The craze was particularly virulent in Germany, and the victims were usually older women, not reality-TV stars. Washington Post, 1 June 2021 As India experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the spread of a double mutant variant which appears to be more virulent, people are dying daily due to lack of oxygen supplies. Minreet Kaur,, 5 May 2021 Citing clinical anecdotes, an expert on the Maharastra Covid Task Force told the Indian Express that the variant may spread faster but is likely less virulent and doesn’t cause dramatically more hospitalizations. Siladitya Ray, Forbes, 20 Apr. 2021 Some of these variants are more virulent and some are better able to evade antibodies from the current vaccines. Anchorage Daily News, 12 Apr. 2021 But the Holocaust happened, and not just because there were virulent true believers, but because there were careerists and people who simply didn't want to get involved. Philip Martin, Arkansas Online, 21 May 2021 The Singapore health minister has warned that B.1.167 appears much more virulent than previous strains and seems to attack younger children. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 18 May 2021 There is a deep natural fit for some cops before virulent racial ideology ever comes into play. Steve Volk, Rolling Stone, 12 May 2021 That plan came to a grinding halt when the SII restricted exports of vaccines towards the end of March, as a second, more virulent wave of Covid-19 swept through the country. Jackie Bischof, Quartz, 2 May 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of virulent

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

History and Etymology for virulent

Middle English, "discharging watery pus, purulent," borrowed from Latin vīrulentus "full of poison, venomous," from vīrus "venom, poisonous fluid" + -ulentus "having in quantity, full of" — more at virus

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About virulent

Time Traveler for virulent

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for virulent

Last Updated

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Virulent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Dog Breeds

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!