[bahy-oh-ter-uh-riz-uh m]
  1. terrorist acts involving the use of harmful agents and products of biological origin, as disease-producing microorganisms or toxins.

Origin of bioterrorism

First recorded in 1980–85; bio- + terrorism
Related formsbi·o·ter·ror·ist, noun, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for bio-terrorism



  1. the use of living organisms and their toxic products to kill or incapacitate, esp as a political weapon
Derived Formsbio-terrorist, adjective, noun
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

Word Origin and History for bio-terrorism



also bio-terrorism, by 1997, from bio- + terrorism. Related: Bioterrorist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

bio-terrorism in Culture


The use of biological agents as weapons of terror. Anthrax bacteria are one such agent, while smallpox is considered one of the more likely lethal viruses that could serve as a weapon of bioterror. (See germ warfare.)


Terrorism that relies on spreading diseases, such as anthrax and smallpox.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.