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 The virus is a hyper-virulent strain of rabies with no reliable vaccine. Bill Sheehan, Washington Post, "Two new horror novels make sense of our current dystopian reality," 7 July 2020 Just 10 years ago, a virulent strain of the fungus Austropuccinia psidii arrived in New South Wales. John R. Platt, Scientific American, "Australian Plant Species Face 'Imminent Extinction' From Invasive Pathogen," 5 July 2020 López-Gatell said the excess-mortality estimate was significant compared with even the most virulent flu outbreaks in Mexico. Washington Post, "Mexico City deaths spiked to three times normal during covid-19 outbreak, official says," 2 July 2020 One thing hunter-gatherers didn’t need to worry much about, however, was virulent infectious diseases that could move quickly from person to person throughout a large geographic region. Charlotte Roberts, The Conversation, "What the archaeological record reveals about epidemics throughout history – and the human response to them," 15 June 2020 Every attempt to pull the show has been met with virulent opposition from fans, who argue that its cultural significance outweighs any concerns about its content. Anne Cohen,, "Judy & Punch Reimagines A Children’s Puppet Show Where The Hero Beats His Wife To Death," 8 June 2020 The virus does not currently appear to be especially virulent and in the majority of cases has caused mild illness. Dennis Normile, Science | AAAS, "China reports more than 200 infections with new coronavirus from Wuhan," 20 Jan. 2020 New Orleans, Chicago and Phoenix all are predicted to be especially virulent as well. Sophie Alexander,, "Social Distancing Shows Signs of Curbing Virus on West Coast," 8 May 2020 Watching what is happening in other countries proves how virulent the new coronavirus is and can offer predictions for the US. Claire Gillespie,, "Will There Be a Second Wave of Coronavirus—and How Bad Could It Be? Here's What Doctors Say," 23 Apr. 2020

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, "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

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Time Traveler for virulent

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for virulent

Last Updated

17 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Virulent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for virulent


How to pronounce virulent (audio)

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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