Definition of irritant in US English:



  • 1A substance that causes slight inflammation or other discomfort to the body.

    • ‘A cough is a reflex action to clear the airways of mucus, phlegm, irritants or a foreign body.’
    • ‘Ozone is a highly reactive gas that is regulated in the outside air as a lung irritant.’
    • ‘Strong odors and chemical irritants may also trigger the sensitive airways of the asthmatic patient.’
    • ‘Some substances may not be irritants but if the skin becomes sensitised - or allergic - to them they may cause a reaction.’
    • ‘The initial treatment step is to eliminate tobacco smoke or other environmental irritants.’
    • ‘Lesion onset usually occurs in a pattern related to the skin irritant or allergen initiating the reaction.’
    • ‘Inflammation makes the airways sensitive to stimuli such as allergens, chemical irritants, tobacco smoke, cold air, or exercise.’
    • ‘If there was one thing he didn't need, it was a face full of skin irritant.’
    • ‘Macrophages may be activated by cigarette smoke and other inhaled irritants.’
    • ‘Selected volatile organic compounds known to be respiratory irritants were determined in the mattress emissions.’
    • ‘But sometimes these allergens and irritants become stuck in the lining of your nose.’
    • ‘Chlorine has a disagreeable odor and may be a respiratory irritant.’
    • ‘Severe skin irritants are less common but more serious hazards.’
    • ‘Moisture barriers, sometimes called skin protectants, shield the skin from exposure to irritants or moisture.’
    • ‘The key point here is to avoid the irritants often found in many popular nutritional formulas.’
    • ‘"It became clear people inhaled airborne irritants, " he says.’
    • ‘He announced that " chemical irritants " would be used if they did not leave.’
    • ‘The most important treatment is identifying and removing the irritant or allergen.’
    • ‘In the absence of these irritants, sputum production and airway inflammation should decrease.’
    • ‘Exposure to respiratory irritants such as second-hand tobacco smoke, dusts, and fumes should be minimized.’
  • 2A thing that is continually annoying or distracting.

    ‘in 1966 Vietnam was becoming an irritant to the government’
    • ‘- But Greenpeace had become a bigger irritant for the French than it had realised.’
    • ‘Another constant irritant for the judge was poor media reporting.’
    • ‘Our diplomats are instructed to avoid unnecessary irritants and purely rhetorical hostility.’
    • ‘What should be a service to the community is seen as a major irritant.’
    • ‘Still, these are mostly minor irritants that can easily be dismissed as necessary game requirements.’
    annoyance, irritation, source of irritation, source of vexation, source of annoyance, thorn in someone's flesh, thorn in someone's side, pinprick, pest, bother, trial, torment, plague, inconvenience, nuisance, menace
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  • Causing slight inflammation or other discomfort to the body.

    • ‘Skin testing will not be useful in identifying the potential for these irritant substances to cause symptoms.’
    • ‘Ammonia is an irritant gas with a sharp odor, both as a natural and a manufactured chemical.’
    • ‘Their long, skinny bodies were covered with irritant hairs.’
    • ‘The welding process produces a complex mixture of irritant gases, coarse metal particulates, and fine metal oxide fume.’
    • ‘Irritant contact dermatitis is a skin reaction caused by the direct effect of an irritant substance on the skin.’
    causing inflammation, causing swelling
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