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

These amphibians likely harbored the fungus, allowing it to become more virulent and spread to others not adapted to it. Joanna Klein, New York Times, "Frog-Killing Fungus Found to Have Origins on Korean Peninsula," 10 May 2018 The pattern did not obtain in the pandemic of 1918-19 or, for that matter, in the much more limited flu of 2009, both of which were caused by a virulent H1N1 strain of the virus. William F. Bynum, WSJ, "‘Pandemic 1918’ and ‘Influenza’ Review: Fire, Ice or Virus?," 4 Jan. 2019 There are a small percentage of the American people, virulent people, some of them the dregs of society. Fox News, "Kavanaugh to speak to Senate Judiciary Committee staffers," 18 Sep. 2018 There is perhaps no more virulent form of public scorn than the kind heaped upon the openly unfaithful. Marcia Desanctis, Town & Country, "Mark Sanford, Act II," 14 Feb. 2013 The most virulent white nationalists running in 2018 — from Holocaust deniers to one candidate who believes a New York children’s hospital was making kids sick on purpose — lost. Jane Coaston, Vox, "How white supremacist candidates fared in 2018," 7 Nov. 2018 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

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

9 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 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

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