Toxic Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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You may hear someone toss the word toxic around when referring to an unhealthy relationship or a hateful person, but what exactly does it mean? And why is everything seemingly “toxic” these days? We’ll tell you.  

Read on as we explore the increasingly popular word toxic to uncover its meaning, origin, usage, and more.

What Is the Definition of Toxic?

Toxic (pronounced tok-sik) is an adjective meaning unacceptable or unpleasant. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, toxic can also describe anything causing unhappiness or harm over an extended period of time. 

In relation to pharmacology and toxicology, toxic is used when referring to a substance that has a chemical nature that is harmful or lethal if it enters the body in a sufficient amount. 

“Hazardous,” “dangerous,” and “do not eat” are just a few warning labels you will find on toxic substances like toxic chemicals that should be handled with the utmost care.

What Is the Origin of the Word Toxic?

Defined as “poisonous,” the adjective toxic made its first debut in the English language around the mid-seventeenth century. 

That said, our word of the day derives from Late Latin toxicus and Latin toxicum, which has origins in the Greek toxikon (or pharmakon), meaning “lethal poison.”

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Toxic?

By now you should have a pretty good understanding of what the word toxic means, so let’s take open a thesaurus to review a few synonyms and antonyms. 

To refresh your memory from grade school, a synonym is a word or phrase that has the same or nearly the same meaning as another word or phrase whereas an antonym is a word with the opposite meaning. 

Synonyms of toxic include:

  • Death dealing
  • Environmentally unfriendly
  • Peccant
  • Corrupt
  • Unsafe
  • On thin ice
  • Destructive
  • Poisonous
  • On a limb
  • Venomous
  • Noxious
  • Open to attack
  • Pestilential
  • Toxiferous
  • Touch and go
  • Virulent
  • Harmful
  • Lethal
  • Hanging by a thread
  • Dangerous 
  • Contaminated
  • Corrupt
  • Sick
  • Socially impaired
  • Vindictive
  • Psychopathic
  • Sociopathic
  • Broken
  • Unpleasant to breathe 
  • Disharmonious 
  • Malignant 
  • Dysfunctional 
  • Contagious
  • Unsanitized 
  • Impure
  • Disease ridden
  • Tainted
  • Pague ridden
  • Unfit to breathe 

Antonyms of toxic include:

  • Harmless
  • Unoffensive
  • Nonirritant
  • Noninjurious
  • Undisruptive
  • Nonvenomous
  • Unharmful
  • Unobjectionable
  • Tame
  • Innocent
  • Hurtless
  • Risk-free
  • Nontoxic 
  • Benign
  • Squeaky clean
  • Clean cut
  • High minded 
  • Nonviolent
  • Right-minded 
  • Innocent
  • Wholesome
  • Healthy 
  • Upright 
  • Desirable
  • Moral
  • Healthful
  • Life-giving 
  • Filtered 
  • Lively 
  • Hygienic 
  • Trustworthy

How Can You Use Toxic in a Sentence?

The word toxic means poisonous, but how is it used in a sentence? Here are a few example sentences for you to review:

“The toxic relationship Billy had been trapped in with his mother was causing many issues.” 

“I told Becky that Mark was toxic, but she didn’t listen. Now, she’s two years deep in a toxic relationship.”

“Lead is a very toxic substance that is commonly found in paint, ceramics, pipes, and plumbing materials.”

“So many drugs are toxic to the human body, yet they are still 100 percent legal in the United States.”

“Many researchers link toxic chemicals like arsenic, lead, and mercury to disease and illness.”

“These factories are carelessly releasing toxic gasses into the atmosphere.”

“After coming into contact with a toxic poison, Todd started to exhibit symptoms of toxicosis.”

“By introducing various other bacteria, they were able to process the toxic waste found at the lake into harmless, biodegradable material!” 

“I don’t know about you, but I love the song called Toxic by Britney Spears.”

“The toxic substance is extremely dangerous and must be avoided at all costs.”

“His toxic behavior is far from appealing.”

“I don’t mean to be rude, but your toxic way of thinking isn’t something I want to be associated with.”

“When I lived in New York, I dated an extremely toxic person who made me feel depressed for a very long time.”

“The toxic effects of second-hand cigarette smoke are extremely dangerous for infants.”

“Her toxic attitude is clearly why she didn’t win the student council election.”

“Please do your research before purchasing skincare products as many of them contain toxic ingredients that can wreak havoc on the body.”

“My therapist thinks my boyfriend is toxic, but I don’t care — I’m in love!”

What Are Translations of Toxic?

Read on to find common translations of toxic, which have been provided by Collins English Dictionary

  • American English — toxic
  • Russian — токсичный 
  • Spanish — tóxico 
  • Swedish — giftig 
  • Thai — มีพิษ 
  • Finnish — myrkyllinen 
  • French — toxique 
  • German — giftig 
  • Greek — τοξικός 
  • Italian — tossico
  • Japanese — 有毒な 
  • Korean — 유독한 
  • Brazilian Portuguese — tóxico 
  • Chinese — 有毒的 
  • Croatian — otrovan 
  • Czech — toxický 
  • Danish — giftig 
  • British English — toxic  
  • Arabic — سُمِّيّ
  • Dutch — giftig 
  • European Spanish — tóxico
  • Norwegian — giftig 
  • Polish — toksyczny 
  • European Portuguese — tóxico 
  • Romanian — toxic
  • Turkish — zehirli 
  • Ukrainian — токсичний
  • Vietnamese — độc


Whether you’re looking to describe chemicals and gas or masculinity and relationships, the word toxic is a good choice of words. Derived from the Greek “toxikón” meaning “bow poison,” toxic is used today both figuratively and metaphorically. 

That said, unlike “poisonous,” the word toxic may describe something almost monstrous and alien. You see, poison has more of an association with nature — such as poison ivy — but our word of the day can’t be distinguished so easily. 

Something that is extremely risky or harmful can be toxic, such as bad behavior or rudeness. What’s more, if someone calls you “toxic” or refers to your attitude as “toxic,” it’s difficult to rebut because of its ambiguity.  


Toxic Synonyms | Collins English Thesaurus 

Toxic: Definition | Cambridge English Dictionary 

What Does Toxic Mean? | Best 15 Definitions Of Toxic | Your Dictionary