[ vir-yuh-luh ns, vir-uh- ]
/ ˈvɪr yə ləns, ˈvɪr ə- /


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.

Nearby words

  1. virtuous circle,
  2. virtuously,
  3. virtute et armis,
  4. virucidal,
  5. virucide,
  6. virulent,
  7. virulent bacteriophage,
  8. virulently,
  9. viruliferous,
  10. viruria

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

British Dictionary definitions for virulence



/ (ˈvɪrʊləns) /


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

Medicine definitions for virulence


[ 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.

Culture definitions for virulence


[ (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.