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From Middle English venum, venym, etc., from Anglo-Norman venum, venim, venime, etc., from Old French venim, venin, etc., from Vulgar Latin *venīmen (venom), from Latin venēnum (juice; venom), from Proto-Italic *weneznom (lust, desire), from Proto-Indo-European *wenh₁- (to strive, wish, love); see also Sanskrit वनति (vanati, gain, wish, lust) and Latin Venus (Roman goddess of love). Doublet of venin and venene.


  • IPA(key): /ˈvɛnəm/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛnəm


venom (countable and uncountable, plural venoms)

  1. An animal toxin intended for offensive use, a biological poison delivered by bite, sting, etc. to protect an animal or to kill its prey.
  2. (figurative) Feeling or speech marked by spite or malice; vitriol.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Henry the Fift”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene ii]:
      The venom of such looks, we fairly hope, / Have lost their quality, and that this day / Shall change all griefs and quarrels into love.
    • 1790, Richard Cumberland, The Observer[1], volume 5, number 130, London: C. Dilly, page 48:
      [] as I was feasting my jaundiced eye one morning with a certain newspaper, which I was in the habit of employing as the vehicle of my venom, I was startled at discovering myself conspicuously pointed out in an angry column as a cowardly defamer []
    • 1819, Jedadiah Cleishbotham [pseudonym; Walter Scott], chapter XXXIII, in Tales of My Landlord, Third Series. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to IV), Edinburgh: [] [James Ballantyne and Co.] for Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, []; Hurst, Robinson, and Co. [], →OCLC:
      My daughter [] has no occasion to dispute the identity of your person; the venom of your present language is sufficient to remind her that she speaks with the mortal enemy of her father.
    • 1938, Lawrence Durrell, The Black Book, New York: Open Road, published 2012, Book Three:
      History is a study which has none of the venom of reality in it.
    • 1966, James Workman, The Mad Emperor, Melbourne, Sydney: Scripts, page 62:
      The attack was so unwarranted and delivered with such venom that his unpreparedness for it left him speechless.
    • 2007, Roger Ebert, Your Movie Sucks[2], Kansas City: Andrews McMeel, Introduction:
      Some of these reviews were written in joyous zeal. Others with glee. Some in sorrow, some in anger, and a precious few with venom, of which I have a closely guarded supply.


  • (poison carried by an animal): venene; venin (now usually venom of certain snakes); atter (archaic, dialectal); zootoxin


Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


venom (third-person singular simple present venoms, present participle venoming, simple past and past participle venomed)

  1. (obsolete) To infect with venom; to envenom; to poison.
    • 1566, Thomas Blundeville (translator and editor), The Fower Chiefyst Offices Belongyng to Horsemanshippe, London, Chapter 36,[3]
      [] washe all the filth away with warme water, and annoynte the place with Hony and Fytch flower myngled together. But beware you touche none of the kirnelles with your bare finger, for feare of venoming the place, which is very apt for a Fistula to breede in.
    • c. 1602, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Troylus and Cressida”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene iii]:
      Let’s leave the hermit pity with our mothers, / And when we have our armours buckled on, / The venom’d vengeance ride upon our swords, / Spur them to ruthful work, rein them from ruth.
    • 1669, John Bunyan, “The Holy Citie, or, The New-Jerusalem”, in Commentary[4], London: Francis Smith, Chapter 21, Verse 25, pp. 229-230:
      The Dragon is a venemous beast, and poisoneth all where he lieth; he beats the Earth bare, and venoms it, that it will bear no grass []
    • 1717, “The Story of Ants chang’d to Men”, in William Stonestreet, transl., edited by Samuel Garth, Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Fifteen Books. Translated by the most eminent hands[5], London: Jacob Tonson, Book 7, p. 239:
      Our Fountains too a dire Infection yield,
      For Crowds of Vipers creep along the Field,
      And with polluted Gore, and baneful Steams,
      Taint all the Lakes, and venom all the Streams.

Derived terms[edit]


venom (not comparable)

  1. (obsolete) Poisonous, poisoned; (figuratively) pernicious.


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of venym




  1. poison, venom

See also[edit]