“She seemed to be immune to the fumes; but, to everyone else in the house, they were noxious.”

Considering what’s shown above, what is the best definition of noxious?

Check your answer!

Choice A - Associated with beauty
Choice B - Producing an aromatic smell
Choice C - Annoying and obnoxious
Choice D - Very harmful and toxic


Noxious (adjective) – highly harmful to physical health, toxic; or, harmful to mental health, corrupting

Noxiously (adverb) – in a harmful or corruptive manner; harmfully or perniciously   

Noxiousness (noun) – the quality of being harmful or toxic

GRE pro tips:

You probably notice that noxious is similar to the word obnoxious. Both words come from the Latin verb nocēre, meaning “to hurt” or “to injure,” and the suffix –ious which means “full of.” The more common word obnoxious means offensive or objectionable. Whereas something that is noxious is also offensive; however, it is causes far more harm than a mere obnoxious nuisance. Noxious refers to something that produces exceedingly damaging physical or emotional harm.

You have likely have heard this word in the context of noxious fumes and you may have even encountered some during a chemistry lab mishap (or even while dealing with regular hair products or house cleaners). But noxious also applies to mental or psychological harm, such as that experienced by a kidnapping victim or among those who have lived under a dictatorship.

Example sentences:

The fume hoods cannot protect you from noxious chemicals unless you use them properly.”

“The noxious psychological effects of life in a surveillance state include paranoia and an inability to trust others.”