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

That criticism gets more virulent as one gets to the radical extremes of the political spectrum. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: Surveys are harder, more complicated than people think," 25 Aug. 2019 Yet the last major reform was in 1969, which ironically was also when India was nationalizing banks and lurching toward a more virulent socialism. Washington Post, "India’s Crony Capitalist Edifice Is Creaking," 25 Mar. 2019 The more virulent critics, though, are the people on the street, the people who’ve been season ticket holders for decades, who’ve named their kids after players, who have Sunderland tattoos. John Anderson, WSJ, "‘Sunderland ’Til I Die’ Review: Kicking and Screaming," 13 Dec. 2018 Researchers have produced two candidate PV2 viruses that grew well in experimental cells, were not virulent in a mouse model and were genetically stable. Patricia L. Foster, The Conversation, "A newly designed vaccine may help stamp out remaining polio cases worldwide," 13 Sep. 2019 Another notion that the CDC would like to dispel is the idea that all chickens have salmonella, a falsehood that prompts people to feed the animals antibiotics, which then can cause resistant and more virulent strains of salmonella bacteria. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "Salmonella illnesses tied to backyard poultry flocks surpass 1,000 cases in 49 states," 2 Sep. 2019 Particularly in small, isolated populations — which are how many new species begin — highly virulent viruses can rapidly exhaust the supply of available hosts and burn themselves out. Quanta Magazine, "Viruses Would Rather Jump to New Hosts Than Evolve With Them," 13 Sep. 2017 Furthermore, the strains that cause the infection in the Northeast are especially virulent and arthritogenic, and several long-lasting post-infectious syndromes have been identified. Allen Steere,, "Lyme disease: How we discovered it and where we go from here," 22 Aug. 2019 Maybe Deadheads aren’t as virulent as other groups of superfans. Lucy Dacus, New York Times, "Woodstock, a Utopia? Not for Every Generation," 6 Aug. 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

10 Oct 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

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