English edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English poisounous, poysonouse, equivalent to poison +‎ -ous.

Pronunciation edit

Adjective edit

poisonous (comparative more poisonous, superlative most poisonous)

  1. Containing sufficient poison to be dangerous to touch or ingest.
    Synonyms: poisoned, toxic, venomous, (dialectal or archaic) attery
    Antonyms: nonpoisonous, unpoisonous
    While highly poisonous to dogs, this substance is completely harmless if ingested by humans.
    • 1757, John Dyer, “Book I”, in The Fleece: A Poem [] [1], London: R. and J. Dodsley, page 40:
      Nor taint-worm ſhall infect the yeaning herds / Nor penny-graſs, nor ſpearwort's poiſ'nous leaf.
    • 2003, Charles L. Fergus, Common Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms of the Northeast, Stackpole Books, →ISBN, page 77:
      I had picked a mushroom so poisonous that particles of it, stuck to my fingers and accidentally swallowed, could have made me deathly ill, and a piece the size of my thumb could have killed me.
  2. (figuratively) Negative, harmful.
    Synonym: toxic
    • 2013, Kylie Griffin, Allegiance Sworn, Penguin, →ISBN:
      He didn't want to end up like his grandfather, bitter and intractable, consumed in his hatred like an addict on haze — a poisonous attitude that would possess him all his remaining years.

Usage notes edit

Some speakers make a distinction between poisonous (releasing toxins when eaten), and venomous (releasing toxins (known as venom in this case) by biting a target), especially in non-colloquial speech.

Derived terms edit

Translations edit