Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various simple submicroscopic parasites of plants, animals, and bacteria that often cause disease and that consist essentially of a core of RNA or DNA surrounded by a protein coat. Unable to replicate without a host cell, viruses are typically not considered living organisms.
  • n. A disease caused by a virus.
  • n. Something that poisons one's soul or mind: the pernicious virus of racism.
  • n. Computer Science A computer virus.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Venom, as produced by a poisonous animal etc.
  • n. A type of microscopic agent that causes an infectious disease; the disease so caused.
  • n. A submicroscopic infectious organism, now understood to be a non-cellular structure consisting of a core of DNA or RNA surrounded by a protein coat. It requires a living cell to replicate, and often causes disease in the host organism.
  • n. A computer virus.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Contagious or poisonous matter, as of specific ulcers, the bite of snakes, etc.; -- applied to organic poisons.
  • n. the causative agent of a disease, .
  • n. any of numerous submicroscopic complex organic objects which have genetic material and may be considered as living organisms but have no proper cell membrane, and thus cannot by themselves perform metabolic processes, requiring entry into a host cell in order to multiply. The simplest viruses have no lipid envelope and may be considered as complex aggregates of molecules, sometimes only a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) and a coat protein. They are sometimes viewed as being on the borderline between living and nonliving objects. They are smaller than living cells in size, usually between 20 and 300 nm; thus they pass through standard filters, and were previously referred to as filterable virus. The manifestations of disease caused by multiplication of viruses in cells may be due to destruction of the cells caused by subversion of the cellular metabolic processes by the virus, or by synthesis of a virus-specific toxin. Viruses may infect animals, plants, or microorganisms; those infecting bacteria are also called bacteriophages. Certain bacteriophages may be non-destructive and benign in the host; -- see bacteriophage.
  • n. Fig.: Any morbid corrupting quality in intellectual or moral conditions; something that poisons the mind or the soul.
  • n. a program or segment of program code that may make copies of itself (replicate), attach itself to other programs, and perform unwanted actions within a computer; also called computer virus or virus program. Such programs are almost always introduced into a computer without the knowledge or assent of its owner, and are often malicious, causing destructive actions such as erasing data on disk, but sometime only annoying, causing peculiar objects to appear on the display. The form of sociopathic mental disease that causes a programmer to write such a program has not yet been given a name. Compare trojan horse{3}.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The contagium of an infectious disease; a poison produced in the body of one suffering from a contagious disease, and capable of exciting the same disease when introduced into another person by inoculation.
  • n. Hence Figuratively, that which causes a degraded mental or moral state; moral or intellectual poison: as, the virus of sensuality.
  • n. Figuratively, virulence; extreme acrimony or bitterness; malignity.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a software program capable of reproducing itself and usually capable of causing great harm to files or other programs on the same computer
  • n. (virology) ultramicroscopic infectious agent that replicates itself only within cells of living hosts; many are pathogenic; a piece of nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) wrapped in a thin coat of protein
  • n. a harmful or corrupting agency

Etymologies

Latin vīrus, poison.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin virus ("poison, slime, venom"). First use in the computer context by David Gerrold in his 1972 book When HARLIE Was One. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Unfortunately for Google, one of these 427 recepients is a potential spammer, a script kiddie, who sent a malignant mail containing a virus attachment to some Satyendra Sheth, who inturn started speculating that Google (or someone similar) sent him a virus* ..!!

    The first tones of Freedom

  • VII were naturally blank-faced idiots before the virus came, or maybe the virus was forced to damage some vital part just in order to fight back -- but it was the _virus_ that was being killed by its own host, not the other way around. "

    Star Surgeon

  • The virus, a sub-type of Ebola virus [_Ebola Reston virus_ is now ranked as a distinct virus species in the genus

    Flu Wiki Forum - Front Page

  • The term "virus" is coined by researcher Fred Cohen, at the time a Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California, to describe self-replicating programs.

    The First Virus...

  • The CD-ROM didn't contain a virus per se, because a virus circulates mainly across computer networks, entering a computer surreptitiously the way a disease organism enters a living host (hence the term virus).

    The Bear and the Dragon

  • At least for some simple viruses we're already at the Jurassic Park stage; if the genetic code of a virus is available, it can always be rebuilt.

    Three Ways to Drive an Animal to Extinction - Boing Boing

  • The Register's story says that the virus is affecting Royal Navy warships like the carrier HMS Ark Royal.

    Computer viruses hit the military

  • Because the virus is already quite widespread in different locations, containment is not a feasible optionRealistically, containment was never a sustainable option once the disease spread to any major city with a significant transportation hub.

    "Containment is not a feasible option"

  • Infection by the human papilloma virus is the most common sexually transmitted agent, afflicting 50-80% of the population.

    The 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine - Illustrated Presentation

  • What they have shown the virus is the enormous potential to change all the time.

    Luc Montagnier - Interview

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Comments

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  • obviously not an animal but still some kind of "living" agent...

    December 9, 2010