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[tol-er-uh ns] /ˈtɒl ər əns/
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions, beliefs, and practices that differ from one's own.
interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.
the act or capacity of enduring; endurance:
My tolerance of noise is limited.
Medicine/Medical, Immunology.
  1. the power of enduring or resisting the action of a drug, poison, etc.:
    a tolerance to antibiotics.
  2. the lack of or low levels of immune response to transplanted tissue or other foreign substance that is normally immunogenic.
  1. the permissible range of variation in a dimension of an object.
    Compare allowance (def 8).
  2. the permissible variation of an object or objects in some characteristic such as hardness, weight, or quantity.
Also called allowance. Coining. a permissible deviation in the fineness and weight of coin, owing to the difficulty of securing exact conformity to the standard prescribed by law.
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Latin tolerantia. See tolerant, -ance
Related forms
nontolerance, noun
overtolerance, noun
1, 2. patience, sufferance, forbearance; liberality, impartiality, open-mindedness. T olerance , toleration agree in allowing the right of something that one does not approve. T olerance suggests a liberal spirit toward the views and actions of others: tolerance toward religious minorities. T oleration implies the allowance or sufferance of conduct with which one is not in accord: toleration of graft. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tolerance
  • The rapid selection for lactose tolerance raises an interesting question.
  • The common wood frog displays a rare trait called freeze tolerance.
  • But as global temperatures rise, corals are reaching their upper limits of heat tolerance.
  • Base your decision on the amount of money you're spending, your tolerance for financial risk, and the cost of the policy.
  • If profligacy has been their social imperative, its moral corollary is unflinching tolerance.
  • Pit bulls seem to have a high tolerance for pain, making it possible for them to fight to the point of exhaustion.
  • The tolerance these bacteria showed reveals something important about how evolution works.
  • Their pain tolerance was back to normal, on par with the tolerance of people not given any drug or placebo treatment.
  • To me, this seems to be fueled by hatred, not tolerance.
  • But the tolerance of the algae to lignin makes it possible to skip this step, which can reduce costs.
British Dictionary definitions for tolerance


the state or quality of being tolerant
capacity to endure something, esp pain or hardship
the permitted variation in some measurement or other characteristic of an object or workpiece
(physiol) the capacity of an organism to endure the effects of a poison or other substance, esp after it has been taken over a prolonged period
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tolerance

early 15c., "endurance, fortitude," from Old French tolerance (14c.), from Latin tolerantia "endurance," from tolerans, present participle of tolerare "to bear, endure, tolerate" (see toleration). Of authorities, in the sense of "permissive," first recorded 1530s; of individuals, with the sense of "free from bigotry or severity," 1765. Meaning "allowable amount of variation" dates from 1868; and physiological sense of "ability to take large doses" first recorded 1875.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tolerance in Medicine

tolerance tol·er·ance (tŏl'ər-əns)

  1. Decreased responsiveness to a stimulus, especially over a period of continued exposure.

  2. The capacity to absorb a drug continuously or in large doses without adverse effect; diminution in the response to a drug after prolonged use.

  3. Physiological resistance to a poison.

  4. Acceptance of a tissue graft or transplant without immunological rejection.

  5. Unresponsiveness to an antigen that normally produces an immunological reaction.

  6. The ability of an organism to resist or survive infection by a parasitic or pathogenic organism.

tol'er·ant adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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