Poisonous vs venomous

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Poisonous is an adjective which describes a plant, animal or other substance that causes sickness or death if inhaled, ingested or touched. Poisonous may also refer to a malicious or toxic environment or situation. The adverb form is poisonously, the noun form is poisonousness. Poisonous first appears in the 1570s, derived from the word poison, which meant a deadly potion or substance.

Venomous is an adjective which describes an animal that injects poisonous venom into a victim through a bite or sting. Venomous may also refer to a a malicious or toxic environment or situation. The adverb form is venomously, the noun form is venomousness. Venomous first appears around 1300, from the Old French venimos. Note that the difference between poisonous and venomous is the method of delivery, poisonous substances are delivered passively, venomous substances are delivered through a wound inflicted by the attacking animal.


THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been warned to beware of a poisonous laburnum tree in their garden at Anmer Hall in Norfolk. (The Daily Express)

Environmental officials expressed concern Monday that sodium cyanide exposed by last week’s explosions at a warehouse storing hazardous materials in Tianjin, China, could release poisonous hydrogen cyanide into the air if it rains. (The International Business Times)

In this case, though, the reason for the reluctance to hit the office is down to a negative and poisonous atmosphere in the workplace. (The Irish Times)

Rattlesnake selfie: Man ‘may lose hand’ after trying to photograph himself with venemous snake (The Independent)

NAKED celebrities, close brushes with death, highly venemous snakes… and a few million creepy crawlies. (The Scottish Daily Record)

Photographs capturing a battle royale between what may be two of the ocean’s most venomous creatures—a sea snake and what is possibly a stonefish—have gone viral, but such face-offs probably aren’t all that rare. (National Geographic)