A virulent disease is one that's infectious, spreading, and making lots of people sick, while a virulent rant is just a verbal attack, causing sickness of the emotional kind. Either way, something virulent puts a strain on the people who get it.

Two meanings come out of the roots for virulent: "poisonous" and "spiteful." The virus-carrying meaning of virulent often gets combined with strain, such as in a "virulent strain of the flu." Those who aren’t carrying disease but are still considered virulent most likely lash out at others with a biting tone. Unleashing acid-tongued words on someone would be considered a virulent attack.

Definitions of virulent
  1. adjective
    extremely poisonous or injurious; producing venom
    “a virulent insect bite”
    synonyms: deadly, venomous
    of or relating to or caused by a toxin or poison
  2. adjective
    infectious; having the ability to cause disease
    highly infective
    (of a microorganism) extremely infective
    (of a disease) having a rapid course and violent effect
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    not virulent; unable to produce disease
  3. adjective
    harsh or corrosive in tone
    synonyms: acerb, acerbic, acid, acrid, astringent, bitter, blistering, caustic, sulfurous, sulphurous, vitriolic
    disagreeable to the senses, to the mind, or feelings
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