virulent

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: one being "poisonous" and the other, "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

adj extremely poisonous or injurious; producing venom

“a virulent insect bite”
Synonyms:
deadly, venomous
toxic
of or relating to or caused by a toxin or poison

adj infectious; having the ability to cause disease

Synonyms:
highly infective
(of a microorganism) extremely infective
deadly
(of a disease) having a rapid course and violent effect
Antonyms:
avirulent
not virulent; unable to produce disease

adj harsh or corrosive in tone

Synonyms:
acerb, acerbic, acid, acrid, bitter, blistering, caustic, sulfurous, sulphurous, vitriolic
unpleasant
disagreeable to the senses, to the mind, or feelings

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.