Definition: Toxic

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Borrowed from French toxique, from Late Latin toxicus (“poisoned”), from Latin toxicum (“poison”), from Ancient Greek τοξικόν (toxikón) [φάρμακον (phármakon)] ("poison for use on arrows"), from τοξικός (toxikós, “pertaining to arrows or archery”), from τόξον (tóxon, “bow”).


toxic (comparative more toxic, superlative most toxic)

  1. (toxicology) Having a chemical nature that is harmful to health or lethal if consumed or otherwise entering into the body in sufficient quantities.
    Tobacco smoke contains many toxic substances.
  2. (medicine) Appearing grossly unwell; characterized by serious, potentially life-threatening compromise in the respiratory, circulatory, or other body systems.
    The child appeared toxic on arrival at the hospital.
  3. (figurative) Severely negative or harmful.
    a toxic environment that promoted bullying
  4. (figurative, of a person) Hateful or strongly antipathetic.
    It is not good to be around toxic people.

Derived terms

  • cytotoxic
  • toxicity
  • toxic shock

Related terms


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