Definition of poison in English:



  • 1[mass noun] A substance that is capable of causing the illness or death of a living organism when introduced or absorbed.

    ‘he killed himself with poison’
    [count noun] ‘strong chemical poisons’
    • ‘Now they will try to discover if someone has been putting poison down to reduce the rabbit population.’
    • ‘Local residents see a clear connection between children's illnesses and the poisons that permeate their neighborhood.’
    • ‘The news came as police charged four North African men with terrorism offences following a raid on a flat in London last Sunday which uncovered a quantity of the deadly poison, ricin.’
    • ‘Homeowners should install a good carbon monoxide detector to make sure none of this deadly poison is present in their homes.’
    • ‘It's arguably the most deadly poison in the world.’
    • ‘The assumption is that we need professional help to rid our rotten bodies of all the poisons and harmful chemicals accumulated during the season of overindulgence.’
    • ‘Because of ‘chemical drift’ those poisons are carried by the wind into towns and cities.’
    • ‘The green color comes from copper sulphate, a common agricultural poison.’
    • ‘Modern chemical pesticides are poisons, developed during the second world war, and are used worldwide in agriculture.’
    • ‘The idea of using ‘friendly’ bacteria to combat poisons has been around for a number of years and is already used in animals such as pigs and chickens.’
    • ‘Only a fool, a joker or a someone attempting suicide will knowingly swallow poison if it is known to be deadly.’
    • ‘A small amount of the material recovered from the Wood Green premises has tested positive for the presence of ricin poison.’
    • ‘Second-hand smoke contains about 4,000 chemicals, 200 poisons, and over 40 cancer-causing compounds.’
    • ‘As we've discussed here not long ago, the dilution of the deadly poison is such that I can chug down any amount of homeopathic water and not notice it at all.’
    • ‘He argues that there are dangers in natural foods too, which balance the dangers caused by artificial chemical poisons.’
    • ‘There are ways to achieve that sense of the base, the infected, the elemental without necessarily introducing poisons into the environment!’
    • ‘Had I access to a dram of poison, I would have greedily swallowed it.’
    • ‘Trees could be engineered to grow in polluted landfills and absorb poisons, or even be designed to capture more carbon dioxide, diminishing global warming.’
    • ‘Nicotine is a strong, fast acting poison and it is usually applied as a 0.5% solution in water.’
    • ‘Having served on the staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 16 years, she was well aware of government's role in promoting and defending chemical poisons.’
    toxin, venom
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    1. 1.1Chemistry A substance that reduces the activity of a catalyst.
    2. 1.2Physics An additive or impurity in a nuclear reactor that slows a reaction by absorbing neutrons.
    3. 1.3Something that has a destructive or corrupting influence.
      ‘the late 1930s, when Nazism was spreading its poison’
      • ‘By the time he returned to Siler City, however, the poison spread by his original letter was already growing more toxic.’
      • ‘The poison spread by the BNP will make everyone's lives worse.’
      • ‘When he first became Director of the Court New Zealand plays were ‘box office poison’.’
      • ‘Keynes' dream to overthrow the classical order of Adam Smith was greatly influenced by Marx's poison.’
      • ‘What's particularly insidious about deflation is that output doesn't necessarily have to contract for its poison to spread through the economy.’
      • ‘It takes no time at all for them to spread their poison and to implicate others in what they have done, if only by coverup.’
      • ‘In some cases, of course, they are the same people spreading this poison.’
      • ‘This is a poison spreading through the body politic of the country.’
      • ‘I've gotta ban that woman from the Net before her poison spreads to everyone!’
      • ‘Stupid laws contaminate those charged with enforcing them at the first level and then become exponentially more costly as their poison spreads through other layers of the economy.’
      • ‘An important reason for this is that those who spread the poison of hatred and brutality have not been reined in during the last fifty years or so.’
      • ‘Bradford's Tory council let them book a public room to spread their racist poison.’
      • ‘Philip III is even described as a Catholic Galen, charged with the task of purging the poison and corruption of heresy from the mystical body of Christian Spain.’
      • ‘He does not have the means to spread his poison beyond the confines of this small country.’
      • ‘The hearings helped purge the poison from the American body politic.’
      • ‘Today, I think the rhetoric coming from the right wing media is the toxic poison that is spreading this culture war into our body politic so quickly.’
      • ‘In this story, Florida itself has been ‘closed,’ the poison of the space program having corrupted the entire state.’
      • ‘Our silence for long years has encouraged Holocaust deniers, revisionists, baiters and haters to spread their poison.’
      • ‘Would the act required of Hamlet, fulfilled, not spread the poison further?’
      • ‘We share their concern and resolve to work together to eliminate the monster of fascism injecting and spreading the poison of hate in our society, our country.’
      malice, maliciousness, ill will, hate, malevolence, malignity, malignancy, balefulness, embitterment, embitteredness, spite, spitefulness, venom, acrimony, acrimoniousness, rancour
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  • 1 Administer poison to (a person or animal), either deliberately or accidentally.

    ‘he tried to poison his wife’
    ‘symptoms of poisoning may include nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting’
    • ‘It was written and signed in June 1910 five months after he poisoned his wife.’
    • ‘The dogs were poisoned as they sniffed their way along the beach and disturbed the creature.’
    • ‘Before that two chital or spotted deer were poisoned.’
    • ‘Calgary's other local short is Breakfast In Bed by Christopher Hutchens, a bizarre story of a husband who poisons his wife - with a twist.’
    • ‘A north Cotswold couple are warning pet owners of the dangers of using slug pellets in their gardens after their dog was poisoned.’
    • ‘When more conventional means to control them fails, he devises an elaborate revenge which culminates in his poisoning the dogs.’
    • ‘Fears that someone could have been poisoning the rabbits have prompted the investigation after visitors spotted bodies lying about on the ground.’
    • ‘Towards the end, as he's dying of an undefined illness, we realize he picks up chicks by poisoning their pets but acting so super nice and stuff.’
    • ‘However, preliminary results indicate that the dogs were poisoned.’
    • ‘A scientist who served seven years in prison for trying to poison his wife has secured a job teaching ethics, university officials said today.’
    • ‘I knew this and felt guilty about poisoning people with the nicotine.’
    • ‘He tried to poison us like lower animals, like the mice that pester storybook villages, the insects that fly around the heads of those that I read about.’
    • ‘He poisoned his wife in January of that year and was eventually caught on an ocean liner to Canada in the July, becoming the first man to be caught using radio.’
    • ‘That law will remain in force, only now your duty will be to shoot or poison the fox.’
    • ‘The real ones are far worse but I dare not mention them lest their owners or fans of the owners come around one night and burn my house down or poison my dog.’
    • ‘One neighbourhood solved the problem by systematically poisoning the stray dogs with pesticides.’
    • ‘Even dirty bombs are a myth, such devices, even if they could be made, would be unlikely to deliver enough radiation to poison one person.’
    • ‘The snake's venom poisoned the wolf and raven's blood.’
    • ‘In 1993, he got himself into bother after poisoning the vet's dog.’
    • ‘Remember when they poisoned rabbits, it was horrible.’
    administer poison to, give poison to
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    1. 1.1Adulterate or contaminate with poison.
      ‘the Amazon basin is being poisoned by the mercury used by gold prospectors’
      • ‘Barons and lords glanced furtively at each other from down the table, ladies and nobles picked disinterestedly at their food as if suspecting it had been poisoned.’
      • ‘Now, the evidence that I have put to this Court is a complaint to the Commissioner of Police with an analysis from the government department showing that my food had been poisoned.’
      • ‘The soul stirs and this awakening then initiates karma or action; a seed is sown for some future effect, for some future fruit, be that a sweet apple or one that is poisoned.’
      • ‘Would any other industry be allowed to get away with selling contaminated and poisoned products to consumers and then blame them if they get sick?’
      • ‘There are of course chemicals that can be bad if their containers not properly disposed of and there is therefore a risk of contaminating groundwater or poisoning the environment.’
      • ‘Michael never cooked, and if he did, the food would probably be poisoned.’
      • ‘Scary reports are all over the media here in southern California about some nutball who poisoned some baby food.’
      • ‘I thought for a moment as to whether to eat the food, in case it was poisoned.’
      • ‘In June 2002, following threats that their food would be poisoned, the men were unable to eat for a period of seven days.’
      • ‘In other cases, they will eat an egg or pheasant which has been poisoned and put out as bait.’
      • ‘A North Yorkshire training company has been chosen to act as a safeguard against terrorists trying to poison the food chain.’
      • ‘On the Australian mainland, they killed them by giving them poisoned food and clothing contaminated by diseases they had never before experienced.’
      • ‘The supervisor, obviously worried about all the complaints, announced to the horrified children that the food might be poisoned.’
      • ‘Witness how eagerly we accept the idea that our food is being poisoned by the suspect motivations and carelessness of industry, government and science.’
      • ‘Police in India are investigating the death of a Bradford businessman's father after he ate poisoned sweets on a train.’
      • ‘It's chilling to consider that he felt the world to be so hostile that he believed his food was being poisoned and so stopped eating and so starved to death.’
      • ‘If a barrel of apples contains just one poisoned apple, and you cannot tell outwardly which apple is the poisoned one, you must toss out the entire barrelful.’
      • ‘Society is confronted daily with the anti-human nature of large-scale capitalist farming, which pollutes the environment and poisons the food supply.’
      • ‘Anyone could walk in at any time and release a bio-agent that would spread from the chickens to humans, thus poisoning the food supply for who knows how many people.’
      • ‘When they are finished, my crockery and glassware are shattered, my kitchen shelves and cupboards are broken, the food in my pantry is poisoned, and even my house is wrecked.’
      contaminate, put poison in, adulterate, tamper with, spike, lace, doctor
      pollute, contaminate, taint, foul, befoul, dirty, blight, spoil
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    2. 1.2Treat (a weapon or missile) with poison in order to augment its lethal effect.
      ‘poisoned arrows’
      • ‘I learned how to poison arrows, and how to set explosives in them.’
      • ‘The Sultan's army was primarily light cavalry armed with crossbows that shot poisoned arrows.’
      • ‘Duke Kingston developed a fever on their way back to the castle, and they soon figured out that the arrows had been poisoned.’
      • ‘He was focusing more on the men who were standing behind Aric, about to shoot poisoned arrows, no less, at the king.’
      • ‘These they hunt with blowpipes made from hardwood, from which they can shoot poisoned darts great distances with amazing accuracy.’
      • ‘Shamans say its very breath has power, and that the sound it utters when it gasps can send poisoned darts flying, as from a blowgun.’
      • ‘During the rigged tournament, Claudius and Laertes give Hamlet a blunted sword while Laertes' weapon is sharpened and poisoned.’
      • ‘But this is still not all there is in combat, as you can poison your weapons or arrows to do even more damage.’
      • ‘This plan calls for Hamlet and Laertes to have a mock sword fight, but Laertes will be using a real poisoned sword.’
      • ‘I was especially wary of them this time, now that I knew their swords were poisoned, and dodged them as they attempted to advance on me.’
      • ‘That was easy, only three hundred poisoned darts were aimed at the traveler as he passed.’
      • ‘But if someone made the effort to poison the arrow, it probably isn't a very good sign.’
    3. 1.3Prove harmful or destructive to.
      ‘his disgust had poisoned his attitude toward everyone’
      • ‘It is not just adverse events that can poison a positive working atmosphere.’
      • ‘But I simply cannot remain silent and sit here and listen when a party that is trying to attain power at any cost poisons the relationship between the two peoples of this country.’
      • ‘If getting to young people before attitudes are irredeemably poisoned is the key, then All Saints, the area's secondary school, seemed to be providing a model.’
      • ‘The delays are poisoning the political atmosphere and daily making the prospects more and more dispiriting.’
      • ‘A massive management reshuffle followed the scandal and while the changes poisoned the atmosphere, the newsroom was not tamed.’
      • ‘In any case most observers believed the atmosphere was so poisoned that any ceasefire would be as meaningless as those which preceded it.’
      • ‘The bombings poisoned the political atmosphere and deepened the social divide’
      • ‘I don't pretend to be able to explain the bizarre political attitudes now poisoning much of Europe.’
      • ‘What I think it will do is poison the atmosphere in the American scientific and academic community in a way which is absolutely unconscionable.’
      • ‘The city's protection of ‘the prefab block’ over private housing is poisoning the atmosphere and becoming a political mood killer.’
      • ‘I believe their parents are definitely opposed to their daughters' stance, and may possibly be ready to sue the producer for poisoning the social atmosphere.’
      • ‘Their bitterness poisons their attitude and their outlook on life.’
      • ‘Just the perception of unfairness is often enough to poison the atmosphere.’
      • ‘Several former employees complained she could be imperious and unpleasant, which they say poisoned the work atmosphere.’
      • ‘That's definitely poisoning the atmosphere on both sides.’
      • ‘The sizeable coaching staff is just one complaint on the list of gripes which is steadily poisoning the atmosphere in Dunfermline these days and fans would be in uproar if yet more back-up was employed.’
      • ‘I can feel the evil being moving closer and poisoning the atmosphere.’
      • ‘This assumption is the opposite of the odium theologicum that too often poisons the atmosphere of the church.’
      • ‘We sorted it out, but it poisoned the atmosphere.’
      • ‘And, if your opponent is indeed guilty of abusing those around him: It won't be long before he fatally poisons his campaign with destructive behavior.’
      prejudice, bias, jaundice, colour, embitter, sour, envenom, warp, corrupt, subvert
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    4. 1.4Chemistry (of a substance) reduce the activity of (a catalyst).
      • ‘And that soaks into tissue very readily, with the acid part doing its damage along the way, and the fluoride merrily poisoning enzymes and wreaking havoc.’
      • ‘The cells worked well initially, but any traces of carbon monoxide in the hydrogen fuel quickly poisoned the catalyst.’
      • ‘The catalysts are easily poisoned by lead, however, which clogs their reactive surfaces.’
      • ‘It also poisons the enzyme which converts thyroxine to the more metabolically active T3 hormone.’


Middle English (denoting a harmful medicinal draught): from Old French poison magic potion, from Latin potio(n-) potion, related to potare to drink.