noun Pathology.

the condition produced by a poison or by a toxic substance.

Origin of poisoning

First recorded in 1400–50, poisoning is from the late Middle English word poisenynge. See poison, -ing1


[poi-zuh n]


a substance with an inherent property that tends to destroy life or impair health.
something harmful or pernicious, as to happiness or well-being: the poison of slander.
Slang. any variety of alcoholic liquor: Name your poison!

verb (used with object)

to administer poison to (a person or animal).
to kill or injure with or as if with poison.
to put poison into or upon; saturate with poison: to poison food.
to ruin, vitiate, or corrupt: Hatred had poisoned his mind.
Chemistry. to destroy or diminish the activity of (a catalyst or enzyme).


causing poisoning; poisonous: a poison shrub.

Origin of poison

1200–50; Middle English puisun < Old French < Latin pōtiōn- (stem of pōtiō) drink, potion, poisonous draught
Related formspoi·son·er, nounpoi·son·less, adjectivepoi·son·less·ness, nounout·poi·son, verb (used with object)self-poi·son·er, nounun·poi·soned, adjective

Synonyms 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. 7. contaminate, pollute, taint.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for poisoning

Contemporary Examples of poisoning

Historical Examples of poisoning

  • They are at work with the red-skins, poisoning them against us.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • Ah, I would willingly have killed that execrable Smith, for he was poisoning my life.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • But in that moment the whole plot of Madonna's poisoning was revealed to me.

    The Shame of Motley

    Raphael Sabatini

  • They succeeded in poisoning the water supply of the city of Philadelphia.

    The Martian Cabal

    Roman Frederick Starzl

  • Tell Waterbury, and face that charge for poisoning his horse.

    Garrison's Finish

    W. B. M. Ferguson

British Dictionary definitions for poisoning



any substance that can impair function, cause structural damage, or otherwise injure the bodyRelated adjective: toxic
something that destroys, corrupts, etcthe poison of fascism
a substance that retards a chemical reaction or destroys or inhibits the activity of a catalyst
a substance that absorbs neutrons in a nuclear reactor and thus slows down the reaction. It may be added deliberately or formed during fission
what's your poison? informal what would you like to drink?

verb (tr)

to give poison to (a person or animal) esp with intent to kill
to add poison to
to taint or infect with or as if with poison
(foll by against) to turn (a person's mind) againsthe poisoned her mind against me
to retard or stop (a chemical or nuclear reaction) by the action of a poison
to inhibit or destroy (the activity of a catalyst) by the action of a poison
Derived Formspoisoner, noun

Word Origin for poison

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



c.1200, "a deadly potion or substance," also figuratively, from Old French poison, puison (12c., Modern French poison) "a drink," especially a medical drink, later "a (magic) potion, poisonous drink" (14c.), from Latin potionem (nominative potio) "a drinking, a drink," also "poisonous drink" (Cicero), from potare "to drink" (see potion).

For form evolution from Latin to French, cf. raison from rationem. The Latin word also is the source of Old Spanish pozon, Italian pozione, Spanish pocion. The more usual Indo-European word for this is represented in English by virus. The Old English word was ator (see attercop) or lybb. Slang sense of "alcoholic drink" first attested 1805, American English.

For sense evolution, cf. Old French enerber, enherber "to kill with poisonous plants." In many Germanic languages "poison" is named by a word equivalent to English gift (cf. Old High German gift, German Gift, Danish and Swedish gift; Dutch gift, vergift). This shift might have been partly euphemistic, partly by influence of Greek dosis "a portion prescribed," literally "a giving," used by Galen and other Greek physicians to mean an amount of medicine (see dose (n.)).

Figuratively from late 15c.; of persons by 1910. As an adjective from 1520s; with plant names from 18c. Poison ivy first recorded 1784; poison oak is from 1743. Poison gas first recorded 1915. Poison-pen (letter) popularized 1913 by a notorious criminal case in Pennsylvania, U.S.; the phrase dates to 1898.



"to give poison to; kill with poison," c.1300, from Old French poisonner "to give to drink," and directly from poison (n.). Figuratively from late 14c. Related: Poisoned; poisoning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

poisoning in Medicine




The state of being poisoned.
The administration of a poison.




A substance taken internally or applied externally that is injurious to health or dangerous to life.
A chemical substance that inhibits another substance or a reaction.


To kill or harm with poison.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with poisoning


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.