[ poi-zuhn ]
See synonyms for: poisonpoisonedpoisoning on Thesaurus.com

  1. a substance with an inherent property that tends to destroy life or impair health.

  2. something harmful or pernicious, as to happiness or well-being: the poison of slander.

  1. Slang. any variety of alcoholic liquor: Name your poison!

verb (used with object)
  1. to administer poison to (a person or animal).

  2. to kill or injure with or as if with poison.

  1. to put poison into or upon; saturate with poison: to poison food.

  2. to ruin, vitiate, or corrupt: Hatred had poisoned his mind.

  3. Chemistry. to destroy or diminish the activity of (a catalyst or enzyme).

  1. causing poisoning; poisonous: a poison shrub.

Origin of poison

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English puisun, from Old French, from Latin pōtiōn- (stem of pōtiō) “drink, potion, poisonous draught.” See potion.

synonym study For poison

1. Poison, toxin, venom are terms for any substance that injures the health or destroys life when absorbed into the system, especially of a higher animal. Poison is the general word: a poison for insects. A toxin is a poison produced by an organism; it is especially used in medicine in reference to disease-causing bacterial secretions: A toxin produces diphtheria. Venom is especially used of the poisons secreted by certain animals, usually injected by bite or sting: the venom of a snake.

Other words for poison

Other words from poison

  • poi·son·er, noun
  • poi·son·less, adjective
  • poi·son·less·ness, noun
  • outpoison, verb (used with object)
  • self-poi·son·er, noun
  • un·poi·soned, adjective

Words Nearby poison

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use poison in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for poison


/ (ˈpɔɪzən) /

  1. any substance that can impair function, cause structural damage, or otherwise injure the body: Related adjective: toxic

  2. something that destroys, corrupts, etc: the poison of fascism

  1. a substance that retards a chemical reaction or destroys or inhibits the activity of a catalyst

  2. a substance that absorbs neutrons in a nuclear reactor and thus slows down the reaction. It may be added deliberately or formed during fission

  3. what's your poison? informal what would you like to drink?

  1. to give poison to (a person or animal) esp with intent to kill

  2. to add poison to

  1. to taint or infect with or as if with poison

  2. (foll by against) to turn (a person's mind) against: he poisoned her mind against me

  3. to retard or stop (a chemical or nuclear reaction) by the action of a poison

  4. to inhibit or destroy (the activity of a catalyst) by the action of a poison

Origin of poison

C13: from Old French puison potion, from Latin pōtiō a drink, esp a poisonous one, from pōtāre to drink

Derived forms of poison

  • poisoner, 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with poison


In addition to the idiom beginning with poison

, also see

  • one man's meat is another man's poison


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.