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[vir-yuh-luh ns, vir-uh-] /ˈvɪr yə ləns, ˈvɪr ə-/
quality of being virulent.
  1. the relative ability of a microorganism to cause disease; degree of pathogenicity.
  2. the capability of a microorganism to cause disease.
venomous hostility.
intense sharpness of temper.
Also, virulency.
Origin of virulence
1655-65; < Late Latin vīrulentia stench; see virulent, -ence Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for virulence
  • But virulence can't be tested in fatal human infections, and tests for virus concentrations weren't performed.
  • The virulence of some of these comments is striking.
  • It seemed that virulence was easier to lose than enhance.
  • Much of the crisis' virulence came from the fact that the financial system had stopped working.
  • Whether the mutations are actually linked to the virulence of the disease remains to be verified.
  • Physicists denote the virulence of dark energy by a number called w, the equation of state.
  • These defects are apparently the reason for the virus's relative lack of virulence.
  • The concept of germs was unknown then, and the virulence of the contagion was beyond all experience.
  • The three come from different viruses and carry different kinds of danger, depending on ease of transmission and virulence.
  • The new study sheds light on the prevalence and virulence of the headline-grabbing bacteria involved in numerous outbreaks.
British Dictionary definitions for virulence


the quality of being virulent
the capacity of a microorganism for causing disease
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 virulence

1660s (virulency attested from 1610s), from Latin virulentia, from virulentus (see virulent).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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virulence in Medicine

virulence vir·u·lence (vēr'yə-ləns, vēr'ə-)

  1. The quality of being poisonous.

  2. The capacity of a microorganism to cause disease.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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virulence in Culture
virulence [(vir-yuh-luhns, vir-uh-luhns)]

The capacity of a pathogen, such as a microorganism or toxin, to produce disease.

Note: “Virulent” substances or organisms are extremely pathogenic or toxic.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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