[vir-yuh-luh ns, vir-uh-]


quality of being virulent.
  1. the relative ability of a microorganism to cause disease; degree of pathogenicity.
  2. the capability of a microorganism to cause disease.
venomous hostility.
intense sharpness of temper.

Often vir·u·len·cy.

Origin of virulence

1655–65; < Late Latin vīrulentia stench; see virulent, -ence Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for virulence

Contemporary Examples of virulence

Historical Examples of virulence

  • "We don't scare worth a cent," she snapped, with the virulence of a vixen.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • It is then said that the virulence of the microbe is attenuated.

  • All her friends were beginning to hate her with virulence, so lucky had she been!

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope

  • Even the virulence of the dreaded Tarantula's bite has been greatly exaggerated.

  • The epidemic had died out not because of lack of virulence but because of lack of victims.


    Jesse Franklin Bone

British Dictionary definitions for virulence




the quality of being virulent
the capacity of a microorganism for causing disease
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 virulence

1660s (virulency attested from 1610s), from Latin virulentia, from virulentus (see virulent).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

virulence in Medicine


[vîryə-ləns, vîrə-]


The quality of being poisonous.
The capacity of a microorganism to cause disease.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

virulence in Culture


[(vir-yuh-luhns, vir-uh-luhns)]

The capacity of a pathogen, such as a microorganism or toxin, to produce disease.


“Virulent” substances or organisms are extremely pathogenic or toxic.
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.