Origin of tolerance

First recorded in 1375–1425; late Middle English word from Latin word tolerantia. See tolerant, -ance
Related formsnon·tol·er·ance, nouno·ver·tol·er·ance, noun

Synonyms for tolerance

1, 2. patience, sufferance, forbearance; liberality, impartiality, open-mindedness. T olerance , toleration agree in allowing the right of something that one does not approve. T olerance suggests a liberal spirit toward the views and actions of others: tolerance toward religious minorities. T oleration implies the allowance or sufferance of conduct with which one is not in accord: toleration of graft. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tolerance

Contemporary Examples of tolerance

Historical Examples of tolerance

  • For myself I beg your tolerance, your countenance and your united aid.

  • It viewed them with tolerance until they were found out, when it raised its hands.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Kirkwood acceded, perforce; and bided his time with what tolerance he could muster.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • "She hasn't any tolerance in her, anyhow," and he was grave and preoccupied all through dinner.

  • He simply cannot conceive of such a thing; and he has no tolerance for it.

British Dictionary definitions for tolerance



the state or quality of being tolerant
capacity to endure something, esp pain or hardship
the permitted variation in some measurement or other characteristic of an object or workpiece
physiol the capacity of an organism to endure the effects of a poison or other substance, esp after it has been taken over a prolonged period
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 tolerance

early 15c., "endurance, fortitude," from Old French tolerance (14c.), from Latin tolerantia "endurance," from tolerans, present participle of tolerare "to bear, endure, tolerate" (see toleration). Of authorities, in the sense of "permissive," first recorded 1530s; of individuals, with the sense of "free from bigotry or severity," 1765. Meaning "allowable amount of variation" dates from 1868; and physiological sense of "ability to take large doses" first recorded 1875.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for tolerance




Decreased responsiveness to a stimulus, especially over a period of continued exposure.
The capacity to absorb a drug continuously or in large doses without adverse effect; diminution in the response to a drug after prolonged use.
Physiological resistance to a poison.
Acceptance of a tissue graft or transplant without immunological rejection.
Unresponsiveness to an antigen that normally produces an immunological reaction.
The ability of an organism to resist or survive infection by a parasitic or pathogenic organism.
Related formstoler•ant adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.