Definitions

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

  • adj. Tending to cause death; deadly.
  • adj. Likely to cause an epidemic disease.
  • adj. Infected or contaminated with a contagious disease.
  • adj. Morally, socially, or politically harmful; pernicious. See Synonyms at poisonous.
  • adj. Causing annoyance or disapproval.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. highly injurious or destructive to life: deadly.
  • adj. annoying.
  • adj. harmful to morals or public order.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Pestilential; noxious; pernicious; mischievous.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Producing or tending to produce infectious disease; pestilential; pestiferous.
  • Mischievous; noxious; pernicious; hurtful to health or morals.
  • Troublesome; mischievous; making mischief or disturbance: often used humorously: as, a pestilent fellow.
  • Excessively; intolerably. Compare pestilent, a., 3.

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

  • adj. exceedingly harmful
  • adj. likely to spread and cause an epidemic disease

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin pestilēns, pestilent-, from pestis, pestilence; see pest.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • The Squire cherished a traditional regard for its old festivities, not only by reason of a general festive inclination that was very strong in him, but from a desire to protest in a quiet way against what he called the pestilent religious severities of a great many of the parish, who ignored the day because it was a high holiday in the Popish Church, and in that other, which, under the wing of Episcopacy, was following, in their view, fast after the Babylonish traditions.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 17, No. 101, March, 1866

  • Paul was a useful man, and a great blessing to his country, a man of exemplary candour and goodness, blessing to all, and provoking to none; and yet he is here called a pestilent fellow (v. 5): "We have found him, loimon -- pestem -- the plague of the nation, a walking pestilence, which supposes him to be a man of a turbulent spirit, malicious and ill-natured, and one that threw all things in disorder wherever he came."

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume VI (Acts to Revelation)

  • [28] On the other hand, Roman architecture is essentially base; the study of classical literature is "pestilent"; and most modern building is the fruit of "the Renaissance poison tree."

    A History of English Romanticism in the Nineteenth Century

  • The archdeacon, with all his virtues, was not a man of delicate feeling; and after having made his morning salutations in the warden's drawing-room, he did not scruple to commence an attack on "pestilent"

    The Warden

  • "pestilent" applied to her; in the Lollard terms of her last will; in her choice of eminent Lollards as executors; in her bosom friendship with the Lollard Queen.

    The White Rose of Langley A Story of the Olden Time

  • And I began to imagine every kind of pestilent disaster. "

    The Far Horizon

  • Here, people like paintings that reproduce sight-lines across the marsh that they would occupy themselves but for the misery of ticks and green heads and mosquitoes which are pestilent when the wind dies.

    A Museum of Numbers

  • Or it may emerge in the body like a disease, corrupting its tissues and disorganizing its structures, so that it turns pestilent and repugnant, oozing or crumbling away before our eyes.

    Authors and others

  • Until you bow to me, I shall cover your comment threads with pestilent screeds.

    Matthew Yglesias » 27 Nominees Confirmed

  • Fact: Contrary to popular belief, yours truly was born and raised by a den of satanic hogs hellbent on transforming this self-proclaimed film fiend into the mouthpiece for a sinister sect of pestilent pigs.

    Slaughterhouse (1987)

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