poisonous

poisonous, venomous, virulent, toxic, mephitic, pestilent, pestilential, miasmic, miasmatic, miasmal are comparable when they mean having the properties or the effects of poison (see POISON)
Basically poisonous implies that the thing so described will be fatal or exceedingly harmful if introduced into a living organism in sufficient quantities (as by eating, drinking, or inhaling)
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the most poisonous of mushrooms

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poisonous gases

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[aniline] is also poisonous but by proper chemical manipulation it becomes the parent of many beneficent medicines— Morrison

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In its extended use the term implies extreme noxiousness or perniciousness or power to corrode, rankle, or corrupt
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you might condemn us as poisonous of your honor— Shak.

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the sentence was pronounced ... in a stifling poisonous atmosphere— Conrad

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secret spreading of poisonous propaganda— Roosevelt

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Venomous applies equally to an animal (as a snake, scorpion, or bee) whose bite or sting introduces a venom (see venom under POISON) into an organism and to the bites, stings, or wounds inflicted by venomous creatures
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venomous insects

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a venomous snake bite

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The term has much extended usage; in this it implies extreme malevolence or destructive malignancy
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the most innocent intimacies would not have escaped misrepresentation from the venomous tongues of Roman society— Froude

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that many of you are frustrated in your ambitions, and undernourished in your pleasures, only makes you more venomousMailer

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Virulent implies the destructive or extremely deleterious properties of or as if of a strong poison; it is applied especially to infectious diseases of a particularly malignant or violent form or, somewhat less often, to notably venomous animals
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poverty produces outbreaks of virulent infectious disease . . . sooner or later— Shaw

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one of the most virulent types of the pneumococcus

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those mosquitoes must have been particularly virulentFarmer's Weekly

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In extended use the term applies to something particularly violent in its display of an offensive or noxious nature or quality
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proceedings . . . dictated by virulent hatred— George Eliot

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the later stages of the campaign when the rumors became virulentMichener

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Toxic sometimes implies the presence of properties or effects of a toxin (see toxin under POISON)
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a toxic goiter

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but more often implies only the character or the properties of a poison and therefore means little more than poisonous
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the toxic principle of a drug

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toxic gases

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over 200,000 fish were killed by the toxic wastes of one industrial plant— Science

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a toxic drug

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In its extended use toxic may imply insidious and destructive activity comparable to that of some toxins in the human organism
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there are emotionally toxic situations at work in the environment as manifestly injurious ... as physical toxins— McLean

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Mephitic is applicable to something so offensive to the sense of smell that it is or is believed to be actually poisonous
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mephitic vapors rising from a swamp

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the mephitic air of a disused mine

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the mephitic verdure of the Malay peninsula— Stafford

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Pestilent and pestilential occasionally come close to poisonous in meaning, but they are chiefly used in the extended sense of exceedingly infectious or dangerous to the health, morals, or mental integrity, especially of the group as distinguished from the individual
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still fervently espouse the pestilential proposition that the world needs to be saved in a hurry by their own brand of righteousness— Rolo

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a pestilent land where people died like flies— Maurice Carr

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grew impatient with such pestilent heresies— Partington

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blow up the blind rage of the populace, with a continued blast of pestilential libels— Burke

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Miasmic, miasmatic, and miasmal all imply a reference to miasma, or supposedly infectious or deadly emanations from swamps or jungles or from putrescent substances that float in the air
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the steaming, rain-drenched, miasmic, leech-filled Sumatran jungle— Rex Lardner

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the miasmatic northern and northeastern coast— Encyc. Americana

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the miasmal air of the closed, unventilated room— C. M. Smith

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Of these words only miasmic is common in extended use, where it often comes close to pestilential in implying a power to spread contamination or to poison the minds or souls of the multitude
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a miasmic little tale of degeneracy—^. T. Scott

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miasmic fear of Communism . . . has permeated Houston— Houston Post

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Analogous words: mortal, fatal, lethal, *deadly: *pernicious, baneful, noxious, deleterious, detrimental

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Poisonous — Poi son*ous, a. Having the qualities or effects of poison; venomous; baneful; corrupting; noxious. Shak. {Poi son*ous*ly}, adv. {Poi son*ous*ness}, n. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • poisonous — index deadly, deleterious, fatal, harmful, incendiary, insalubrious, lethal, malevolent, malignant …   Law dictionary

  • poisonous — (adj.) 1570s, from POISON (Cf. poison) + OUS (Cf. ous). Other candidates for the job were poisonsome (1590s), poisonful (1550s) …   Etymology dictionary

  • poisonous — ► ADJECTIVE 1) producing or of the nature of poison. 2) extremely unpleasant or malicious. DERIVATIVES poisonously adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • poisonous — [poi′zə nəs] adj. capable of injuring or killing by or as by poison; containing, or having the effects of, a poison; toxic; venomous poisonously adv. poisonousness n …   English World dictionary

  • poisonous — poi|son|ous [ˈpɔızənəs] adj 1.) containing poison or producing poison ▪ Some mushrooms are extremely poisonous. ▪ poisonous gases such as hydrogen sulfide ▪ poisonous substances ▪ She was bitten on the ankle by a poisonous snake . poisonous to ▪… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • poisonous — [[t]pɔ͟ɪz(ə)nəs[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED Something that is poisonous will kill you or make you ill if you swallow or absorb it. All parts of the yew tree are poisonous, including the berries. ...a large cloud of poisonous gas. Syn: toxic 2) ADJ GRADED… …   English dictionary

  • poisonous — poisonously, adv. poisonousness, n. /poy zeuh neuhs/, adj. 1. full of or containing poison: poisonous air; a poisonous substance. 2. harmful; destructive: poisonous to animals; poisonous rumors. 3. deeply malicious; malevolent: poisonous efforts …   Universalium

  • poisonous — adjective 1 containing poison or producing poison: poisonous mushrooms | poisonous snakes 2 full of unpleasant and unfriendly feelings: There was a poisonous atmosphere in the household that made Bonita feel very uneasy. 3 someone who is… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • poisonous — poi|son|ous [ pɔıznəs ] adjective * 1. ) containing poison: poisonous gases/plants a ) capable of producing poison: a poisonous snake 2. ) causing a lot of damage or harm: the poisonous spread of urban sprawl a ) extremely unpleasant or unkind: a …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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