Definition of virulent in English:


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  • 1(of a disease or poison) extremely severe or harmful in its effects.

    ‘a virulent strain of influenza’
    • ‘the poison is so virulent that it kills a fish instantly’
    • ‘Mark Oliver Everett is what epidemiologists and Dustin Hoffman call a hot spot, a highly contagious carrier of an extremely virulent disease who infects anyone who crosses his path.’
    • ‘And on the nursing front, Alwin notes that there's been an outbreak of atypical pneumonias in Asia, possibly harbingers of a more virulent flu strain to come.’
    • ‘There is no question that the outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) has focused the world's attention on the dangers of how easily a virulent disease can spread around the globe.’
    • ‘Five to 15 days after exposure a pneumonia that is not very different from other less virulent pneumonias acquired in the community (outside a hospital) develops.’
    • ‘Unless there was an extremely virulent strain of influenza going around, it might not be worth the risk.’
    • ‘But the episode reveals how far this virulent disease has spread through the body corporate.’
    • ‘Not every fever or cough is likely to be this virulent pneumonia.’
    • ‘A preliminary investigation found that the symptoms displayed by the victims were similar to those caused by a virulent poison used to kill rats.’
    • ‘And so massive amounts of radioactivity spewed out in an invisible cloud which spread the most virulent poison all over the land.’
    • ‘36 patients in five Montreal hospitals have died from a virulent infection, officials confirmed Friday.’
    • ‘When the next human ship came the native's story of a virulent disease fatal to humans was duly noted and dispatched back to the nearest Military outpost along with the recording from the satellite.’
    • ‘This method, the inoculation of material containing the living organism, itself was not foolproof, since it was not possible to ensure a mild rather than a virulent infection, which might prove fatal.’
    • ‘Here is a woman who is trying to defeat a horribly virulent disease in rice, one that destroys millions of acres in Asia, and she's using molecular techniques to do it.’
    • ‘Their research can help head off not only the Nipah but also other virulent diseases that break out suddenly to plague man and beast.’
    • ‘The court and all those able to move into the countryside prudently did so, as the disease was less virulent there.’
    • ‘One little sip of this antidote would have rendered the most virulent poisons of the Borgias innocuous.’
    • ‘An understanding of the genetic makeup of the most virulent influenza strain ever seen could help health officials manage possible pandemics in the future.’
    • ‘Both pack a virulent poison in their dorsal spines, so you must not touch anything, even what appears to be a rock, while diving.’
    • ‘Chinese health officials say that the strain is extremely virulent and killed one farmer in as little as two hours.’
    • ‘However, it can produce a virulent poison called verotoxin, which attacks organs such as the kidneys.’
    • ‘The herpes virus can be virulent, but you'll be surprised to learn that a garden herb can beat the symptoms into submission.’
    • ‘Violence and gamesmanship are a virulent virus infecting sport.’
    poisonous, toxic, venomous, noxious, deadly, lethal, fatal, mortal, terminal, death-dealing, life-threatening, dangerous, harmful, injurious, pernicious, damaging, destructive, unsafe
    highly infectious, highly infective, highly contagious, infectious, infective, contagious, rapidly spreading, communicable, transmittable, transmissible, spreading, malignant, uncontrollable, pernicious, pestilential
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    1. 1.1(of a pathogen, especially a virus) highly infective.
      ‘Staphylococcus aureus is a common organism whose virulent strains are causing problems’
      • ‘The paper reflects a major step forward in the study of how some of the world's most virulent viruses, such as West Nile, SARS, Ebola and Hepatitis C interact with their hosts.’
      • ‘Dr. Mackinnon said: ‘How does immune selection create more virulent pathogens?’’
      • ‘Labs are rated on a scale of one to four, four being the highest level of containment where the nastiest, most virulent pathogens are handled.’
      • ‘It's sobering news that a virulent pathogen can evolve so quickly.’
      • ‘Such systemic immunity provides the plant with an effective state of acquired resistance throughout its different organs against subsequent attack by a broad spectrum of virulent pathogens.’
      • ‘On the last days, I inoculated Joseph Meister with the most virulent virus of rabies.’
      • ‘So you can see that this was an exceptionally virulent virus.’
      • ‘The virus is particularly virulent for humans, horses, and gamebirds.’
      • ‘Of course, in such enclosed confines, virulent viruses can run wild, and if the person next to you is sniffling, find another seat if you can.’
      • ‘This intense thriller follows the survivors of a deadly and virulent virus which wipes out London and possibly most of the world.’
      • ‘I have been a virologist, and in fact I think I was the first to do any genetic work with animal viruses, and I'm very, very aware of the potential dangers if virulent viruses acting on human beings are being worked with.’
      • ‘When a predisposing factor cannot be identified, potential explanations include a particularly virulent pathogen or an underlying genetic predisposition.’
      • ‘It sparked a diplomatic incident when the ill-fated ship docked in Gibraltar leading to Spain closing its border with the Rock to ensure the virulent virus did not spread.’
      • ‘Malaria, introduced after 1650, became the Chesapeake's most virulent pathogen.’
      • ‘Concerning biotic stress, plants exposed to virulent and avirulent pathogens respond with a range of defence- and damage-limiting mechanisms.’
      • ‘Bijerinck disproved this theory when he showed that the sap could successively transmit the fully virulent disease through a large number of plant generations.’
      • ‘He said that this disease is virulent enough to kill all of the birds in a short period of time.’
      • ‘They're seem to spread like a virulent disease.’
      • ‘By comparison, six out of seven unvaccinated animals had to be treated for virulent malaria.’
  • 2Bitterly hostile.

    ‘his involvement with the temperance movement led to his virulent attack on the drink trade’
    • ‘Over the years, he has been particularly virulent in his attacks on the mindset that is increasingly reliant on government handouts and regulation.’
    • ‘When word came that Iron Mike had been floored by a virulent attack of the sniffles, his disconsolate well-wishers had to shuffle off without meeting their thick-necked hero.’
    • ‘He launched his most virulent attack yet on the suspected plotters in an article in The Spectator.’
    • ‘The more virulent attacks come from Western intellectuals.’
    • ‘You know, I think you have to take a good look at this virulent attack by Barbara.’
    • ‘They try, judge and convict individuals who cannot defend themselves from such virulent attacks.’
    • ‘Bhisham Sahni's ‘Saag Meat’ is a gentle but virulent attack on the hypocrisy that affluent middle class India continues to live its life with.’
    • ‘This work thus presages the more virulent attack on the German socialists to be found in the Communist Manifesto, produced two years later.’
    • ‘E. A. Freeman's virulent attacks on J. A. Froude for inadequacy in using archives are similarly to be recognized as rhetoric.’
    • ‘His supporters also launched a virulent attack on Kemp.’
    • ‘What surprised me most about that election year was the amazingly virulent attacks on Gore from the left.’
    • ‘The deal was struck after days of virulent attack and counter attack.’
    • ‘Ultimately this defense was transmogrified into a virulent attack on the Danish State Lutheran Church.’
    • ‘They were among the more virulent attackers of the president.’
    vitriolic, malicious, malevolent, malignant, malign, evil-intentioned, resentful, hostile, spiteful, venomous, vicious, vindictive, bitter, rancorous, acrimonious, mordant, astringent, incisive, cutting, biting, scathing, caustic, stinging, blistering, searing, withering, abusive, mean, nasty, aggressive, savage, harsh, devastating
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/ˈvir(y)ələnt/ /ˈvɪr(j)ələnt/


Late Middle English (originally describing a poisoned wound): from Latin virulentus, from virus ‘poison’ (see virus).