“This strain of virus was particularly virulent.”

What is the best definition of virulent?

Check your answer!

Choice A - Foul or unpleasant
Choice B - Caustic or hostile
Choice C - Strong and energetic
Choice D - False and slanderous


Virulent (adjective) – highly infectious, deadly, severe; or, extremely hostile

Virulence (noun) – state of being virulent or poisonous; or, hostility, malignance

GRE pro tips:

It is easy to see the root word virus in the word virulent. Because the word virus already has a deadly quality to it, it should be easy to remember that something that is virulent is deadly or severe. But when we consider that, in  Latin, “virus actually means “poison” or “venom,” the meaning becomes even more clear. Virulent literally means “full of poison or venom,” or highly toxic. In medicine, the term is often used to describe a particularly damaging disease, a potent toxin, or a quickly spreading virus strain. But virulent is also used in an abstract sense – for instance, to describe someone’s malicious thoughts or their caustic speech.

Example sentences:

“The virulence of the snake’s poison ensured that its prey would be dead within minutes of being bitten.”

“The politician had the self-control and resolve to remain unaffected by the media’s unrelenting, virulent attacks.”