Definition of lethal in English:



  • 1Sufficient to cause death.

    ‘a lethal cocktail of drink and pills’
    • ‘Without the respectability that lethal injection provides, capital punishment in the United States would probably cease.’
    • ‘All four incidents involving the potentially lethal weapon happened within the space of an hour in Grimsby.’
    • ‘The first, a yeast, can be especially lethal to individuals with weakened immune systems.’
    • ‘The gas acts like mustard gas, and can prove lethal to those with respiratory problems.’
    • ‘In sufficient quantities its spores can be lethal to humans.’
    • ‘Every car is a potentially lethal weapon of mass destruction.’
    • ‘Who's to say that a substance lethal to rats would necessarily have the same effect on humans?’
    • ‘In fact, oxidative stress may progress to such an extent that it becomes lethal.’
    • ‘The offender appears to sleep peacefully before the lethal dose of poison is administered.’
    • ‘Such a hostile chemical environment would likely prove lethal to all known microbes.’
    • ‘A deadly bird flu, lethal to some animals, is spreading towards Britain.’
    • ‘In the United States, critically injured racehorses are humanely euthanized by lethal injection.’
    • ‘Many dogs like the sweet smell and taste and, unfortunately, even very small amounts can be lethal to them.’
    • ‘The synthetically lethal combinations could not be analyzed because they did not grow under any conditions.’
    • ‘Grey squirrels have out-competed reds for food and also carry squirrel-pox virus which is lethal to the native animals.’
    • ‘Although scorpion stings can be devastatingly painful, they are not usually lethal to humans.’
    • ‘Actually, the mutation has proved lethal in a protected environment as well.’
    • ‘They're exposed every day to potentially lethal doses of anthrax.’
    • ‘Antibiotics are medicines that are lethal to bacteria that cause infections.’
    • ‘The avian flu strain lethal to humans has so far killed 42 people in Vietnam since late 2003.’
    1. 1.1 Very harmful or destructive.
      ‘the Krakatoa eruption was the most lethal on record’
      • ‘Add to that an unhealthy dose of shame at her previous level of comfort, and you had a lethal combination.’
      • ‘Added to that is booze, which can make a lethal combination when added to football, causing fights and car accidents.’
      • ‘In our schools, too, we should emphasize that it will be lethal to take the earth for granted.’
      • ‘Entire governments, never mind single ministers, have been toppled by that lethal combination.’
      • ‘That's a lethal combination when you're required to spend two hours with someone in a car.’
      • ‘Are you prepared to consume that lethal dose of sodium and fat?’
      • ‘The cider and vodka combination is far too lethal for my poor liver so I ended up puking.’
      • ‘The lethal combination of peak hour traffic and rain had resulted in chaos on the roads.’
      • ‘Friday was a bizarre affair, fuelled by a lethal combination of beer, wine, Jack Daniels and vodka.’
      • ‘Too much time and money, little purpose, and boredom are a lethal combination.’
      • ‘It's not just inactivity that makes excess TV-watching lethal to your waistline.’
      fatal, deadly, mortal, causing death, death-dealing, life-threatening, murderous, homicidal, killing, terminal, final, incurable
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    2. 1.2 (in a sporting context) very accurate or skilful.
      ‘a lethal drop-shot’
      • ‘Rush was one of the most lethal forwards of the past 25 years.’
      • ‘Most other clubs can only drool at our rich vein of lethal finishers.’
      • ‘Despite scoring just nine goals in the league Manchester United possess potentially the most lethal striking quartet in the country.’
      • ‘He has shown his lethal shooting touch but has yet to go on a tear, creating speculation he doesn't have much left.’
      • ‘His connection with quarterback Jake Delhomme is almost telepathic, and his speed is lethal.’
      • ‘Seven minutes before the break, however, Argentina once more showed how lethal they are when Riquelme is given time on the ball.’
      • ‘He is a true winger in the Ryan Giggs mould, hugging the touchline and whipping in crosses and lethal shots in great quantity.’
      • ‘Maloney is a diminutive treasure, a pint-sized magician and, from free kicks, consistently lethal.’
      • ‘He can catch the ball in traffic as well as anyone in the league, and he's lethal after the catch.’
      • ‘With a lethal combination of range, strength and speed, Boston is a big play waiting to happen.’
      • ‘The Bills' lethal vertical passing game will be tough to stop the rest of the season.’
      • ‘Still only 19 years old, Ronaldo has gone from promising starlet to lethal player since the turn of the year.’
      • ‘In the ring he is lethal, arguably the quickest fighter in history, with sneaky power and a flair for the dramatic.’
      • ‘The diminutive striker displayed a lethal eye for goal for the Blues two seasons ago and was one of the top scorers in the Premiership.’
      • ‘Sirotka doesn't blow hitters away with a big fastball, but he throws a lethal sinker and gets a lot of groundouts.’
      • ‘Gooden is a tough cookie who can score, and Giricek is a lethal shooter who is underrated at being aggressive.’
      • ‘The Real Madrid and former Inter striker whose credit includes sporting one of the worst haircuts in living memory is lethal in front of goal.’
      • ‘The striker was lethal with his finish, firing a beautiful curling shot that gave Williams no chance.’
      • ‘Beautifully balanced and deceptively fast, he was a classic winger on the dribble, lethal on the turn inside the box.’
      • ‘Rivaldo is equipped with a lethal left foot that has gone through more than a few defences.’
      well aimed, precise, on target, unerring, deadly, sure, true, on the mark, careful, meticulous, painstaking, precision
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Late 16th century (in the sense ‘causing spiritual death’): from Latin lethalis, from lethum, a variant (influenced by Greek lēthē ‘forgetfulness’), of letum ‘death’.